Why Do Many Women Abandon the Field of Economics?

goldin_0Less than one third of all bachelor’s degrees in economics are awarded to women. Claudia Goldin, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University, has found that women are quick to abandon the field of economics when they don’t find initial success. But her research shows that men tend to stick it out in the field despite setbacks.

Professor Goldin’s research found that women who received a grade of B in an introductory course in economics were half as likely to stick with the discipline than women who received grades of A in introductory courses. For men, those who received grades of A or B were just as likely to continue on in the field.

Dr. Goldin told the Washington Post, “Maybe women just don’t want to get things wrong. They don’t want to walk around being a B-minus student in something. They want to find something they can be an A student in. They want something where the professor will pat them on the back and say, ‘You’re doing so well.'” She added, “Guys don’t seem to give two damns.”

Professor Goldin is the author or co-author of many books including The Race Between Education and Technology (Belknap Press, 2008) and Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women (Oxford University Press, 1990). She is a magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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