The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Gender and Academics

  • Donna K. Ginther
  • Shulamit Kahn
  • Jessica McCloskey
Reference work entry


Although women have reached parity and surpassed men in the attainment of bachelor’s degrees (Goldin et al. J Econ Perspect 20(4): 133–156, 2006; Ceci et al. Psychol Sci Public Interest 15(3): 75–141, 2014), their representation within academic departments and disciplines depends on the field and rank. Here, we review the literature about women in academia, focusing on the evidence from the economics literature, but supplementing it with notable studies from other disciplines. We also examine the special case of the economics profession, where – surprisingly – women’s progress has stagnated.

We start by describing the representation of women in science academia and its antecedents in higher education. Since, in mathematics-intensive sciences, the under-representation has its roots prior to the doctorate, we briefly summarise what is known about gender differences related to mathematics and science at earlier ages. In particular, we examine the impact of role models, bias and stereotype threat in explaining the differences. We then transition to research on gender differences in academic career outcomes, considering issues related to work–life balance and bias in the academic hiring process, in academic productivity, in promotion and in salaries. Finally, we discuss how policies influence the representation of women in academia.


Academia Division of labour Equality Gender Parity Pay gap Wage gap Work 

JEL Classifications

J16 J31 J7 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna K. Ginther
    • 1
  • Shulamit Kahn
    • 1
  • Jessica McCloskey
    • 1
  1. 1.