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Gender imbalance in economics – RES report

Victoria Bateman, Danula Kankanam Gamage, Xianyue Liu and Erin Hengel have produced a report this month for the Royal Economic Society, highlighting the continuing issues of gender imbalance within economics as an academic discipline.

They note that:

* Amongst academic economists in the UK, women comprise 33% of lecturers, 27% of senior lecturers/readers and 15% of professors.

* Notably, according to our data, no Black female professor of economics was employed anywhere in the UK for the entire period from 2012-2018/9 (which is when our data ends).


* The proportion of economics professors who are female has increased by only two percentage points since 2012 (from 13% to 15%).

There is a pretty evident contrast between academia and the professional practice of economics outside education, suggesting that the imbalance within academic environments is “neither natural nor inevitable”:

Women are also better represented among economists outside of academia: in the Treasury, 38 percent of economic staff are female (Cabinet Office 2020); at the Bank of England, 32 percent of senior staff are female, along with 46 percent of their new graduate intake (Bank of England 2020); at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, 40 percent of all researchers listed on their website in May 2021 were female, and of those employed purely by the IFS, 52 percent are female (IFS 2021); at NIESR, 45 percent of researchers are female (NIESR 2021b, 2021a); across UK think tanks, 44 percent of researchers and 29 percent of senior researchers are female (Smart Thinking 2020). These figures are impressive compared with academic econom- ics, where only 26 percent of those working as economists are female and only 15 percent are professors. (2021:30)

Similarly, women are underrepresented as students in economics and this imbalance has actually been worsening

* Amongst students from the UK, the proportion of economics undergraduates who are women has fallen from 31% in 2002 to 27% in 2018/9, and, at the master’s level, the proportion has fallen from 37% in 2002 to 31% in 2018/9.

There’s a number of ways of accessing the report’s findings:

RES Report by The Women’s Committee; The Gender Balance in UK Economics can be read in full here along with an executive summary, a six-minute video summary and two-minute video summary

Posted in economics.