Women in european economics

Ladies in European economics

Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Sascha Wilhelm

Despite around a third of PhDs in economics in america having been earned by women during the last few decades, under 15% of full professors in america were ladies in 2017. This column uses data scraped from research institute websites to research whether an identical ‘leaky pipeline’ exists in Europe. It finds that compared to the US, Europe have an increased share of women full professors within their research institutions, however the attrition rate between junior and senior ranks can be compared on both sides of the Atlantic. There are essential differences throughout Europe, however, with the Nordic countries and France scoring higher on gender equality than, for example, Germany and holland.


Women are under-represented among academic economists. For example, in 2017, only 13.9% of full professors in america were women, even though during the last decades, between 30% and 35% of PhDs in economics have already been earned by women (CSWEP 2017). The large gap between your percentage of women holding a PhD and the ones who are eventually continue to be full professors has been interpreted as proof a ‘leaky pipeline’ where, over the various stages of a career, the attrition of women is greater than that of men (Bayer and Rouse 2016, Lundberg and Stearns 2019). A significant nervous about the leaky pipeline literature is that a lot of of its evidence originates from the US.

For more information about the problem in Europe, the ladies in Economics (WinE) Executive Committee of the EEA sponsored a web-scrap data collection by us who are based at Goethe University, Frankfurt (Friebel and Wilhelm 2019). 1 One problem with the European academic market is its insufficient standardisation in labour management practices, titles, websites design, and so forth. After web-scraping web sites of research institutions, we carefully separated the info entry of non-academic from academic staff, and translated the large number of different titles (a lot more than 1,000) right into a simple hierarchy of positions in descending order: (full) professor, associate professor, assistant professor, lecturer, research fellow, research associate.

In a recently available paper, Auriol et al. (2019) exploiting this new dataset, we seek to (1) offer an response to the question of if the situation in Europe is comparable to the united states or whether there are essential differences, (2) investigate from what extent there are essential differences within Europe, and (3) study when the leaky pipeline starts.

Table 1 Female position share across Europe (percentage)

Table 1 reveals that there a leaky pipeline in Europe, too: from a lot more than 40% at basic level, the share of women falls to 22% at the amount of full professor. Compared to the US, Europe have an increased share of women full professors within their research institutions, however the attrition rate between junior and senior ranks can be compared on both sides of the Atlantic.

Although in every countries, the proportion of female researchers at all levels is a lot higher than at the entire professor level, Figure 1 implies that there are essential differences throughout Europe. The Nordic countries and France score higher on gender equality than, for example, Germany and holland. This might partly owe to historical and institutional reasons (the formerly socialist countries, for example, score particularly highly, possibly because economics was a fairly a ‘female’ occupation during socialist times). However, it could also be partly driven by other factors, such as for example recruitment policies linked to the ranking of the study institution, which is next measured through research output from RePEc.

Figure 1 Percentage of ladies in the positioning of full professor

Comparing the most notable half of the most notable 300 institutions with regard to research output on Repec with underneath half, Figure 2 implies that at the entire professor level, the better institutions have fewer women researchers. This may be interpreted as proof the leaky pipeline.

However, the figure also implies that at the junior (entry) level, the more prestigious research institutions in Europe hire significantly fewer women compared to the less prominent institutions. The mode for underneath half of the most notable 300 research institutions is a lot higher (around 1 / 3) than for the most notable half (around 15%) for the entire professorship level. Surprisingly, the gap is of similar magnitude for the basic level. This shows that the leaky pipeline is one the main story, or that the leaky pipeline may begin much earlier than is normally considered (notably, at the transition between graduation and first job). This result which has not been documented in the literature, and it remains to be observed whether the same holds true in america.

Figure 2 Kernel density estimates by level

In conclusion, the info reveal that in Europe, you will find a leaky pipeline. As we show inside our paper, a cohort effect explanation cannot explain the existing numbers alone. Furthermore, it generally does not explain why economics can be an outlier in comparison to other social sciences and STEM fields with similar requirements (Ceci et al. 2014). We argue, though, that it could must be complemented, because higher ranked universities are employing women to a smaller degree than lower ranked universities even at basic level.

How do this be explained? It really is hard to trust that women aren’t as ‘good’ as men when graduating (if anything, they are more lucrative). Hence, the first difference may very well be due to, or during, the procedure of matching graduates to analyze institutions. It can’t be excluded that part of the could possibly be driven by unconscious biases against women. Another possibility is that women may usually do not apply for the very best academic positions, perhaps because they lack confidence or encouragement by placement officers and their advisors. Actually, letters of recommendation written for folks trying to get academic positions use different adjectives to spell it out males and females, with adjectives used to spell it out women viewed more negatively in hiring decisions (Madera et al. 2009, Schmader et al. 2007).

To learn whether this can be a case inside our profession in Europe, we’d need data from the hiring committees of as much research institutions as possible – a difficult, however, not impossible task. Another possibility is that women apply but don’t get selected by the nice research institutions, which again could possibly be tested with such data.

Auriol, E, G Friebel and S Wilhelm (2019), “Ladies in European Economics”, mimeo.

Bayer, A and C E Rouse (2016) “Diversity in the Economics Profession: A FRESH Attack on a vintage Problem”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 30(4): 221-242.

Ceci, S J, D K Ginther, S Kahn, and W M Williams (2014), “Ladies in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape”, Psychological Science in the general public Interest 15(3): 75-141.

CSWEP (2017), The 2017 Report on the Status of Ladies in the Economics Profession.

Lundberg, S and J Stearns (2019), “Ladies in Economics: Stalled Progress”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 33(1): 3-22

Madera, J M, M R Hebl, and R C Martin (2009), “Gender and Letters of Recommendation for Academia: Agentic and Communal Differences,” Journal of Applied Psychology 94: 1591-1599.

Schmader, T, J Whitehead, and V H Wysocki (2007), “A Linguistic Comparison of Letters of Recommendation for Male and Female Chemistry and Biochemistry Job Applicants”, Sex Roles 57: 509-514.

[1] We designed an algorithm to monitor every day all known URLs of European institutions that donate to research in economics. The algorithm identifies the individuals listed on these websites and, where available, records the positioning titles they hold. Gender is identified through first names, and a gender identification software analysing pictures of the individuals.