The Economics Gender Gap

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 1 2012 8:27 AM

The Economics Gender Gap

Here's the kind of gender gap in the economics field that I expect you'd see in just about any profession or discipline in the year 2012:

The biggest disagreement: 76% of women [economists] say faculty opportunities in economics favor men. Male economists point the opposite way: 80% say women are favored or the process is neutral.
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Part of the essence of privilege is that it's invisible to the privileged, so this is what you get. But even though I bet male chemists and female chemists have different perceptions of gender dynamics in the chemistry profession, I doubt that there are systematic gender-linked perception gaps in the content of chemistry. But male economists and female economists have systematically different views about economics-related policy topics:

— Health insurance. Female economists thought employers should be required to provide health insurance for full-time workers: 40 percent in favor to 37 percent against, with the rest offering no opinion. By contrast, men were strongly against the idea: 21 percent in favor and 52 percent against
— Education. Females narrowly opposed taxpayer-funded vouchers that parents could use for tuition at a public or private school of their choice. Male economists love the idea: 61 percent to 14 percent.
— Labor standards. Females believe 48 percent to 33 percent that trade policy should be linked to labor standards in foreign counties. Males disagreed: 60 percent to 23 percent.

That's a sign, I think, of the fairly rudimentary state of economics knowledge as well as of the underlying gender dynamics. But there is agreement about a few things. Economists in the survey of all genders agree that the United States spends too much on the military and also "that Wal-Mart is good for society" (which I think is a weird way of putting it but basically correct). 

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.