Mentors and Role Models Can Make the Difference for Women in Academic Economics

Women have made major progress in many STEM fields in recent years. But the percentage of women earning doctorates in economics has remained the same since 2000. Today, women earn less than one third of all doctorates in the field.

New research led by Donna Ginther, the Dean’s Professor of Economics at the University of Kansas, finds that for women who earn doctorates in the field, they are less likely to get tenure track jobs, and then once in those jobs, they’re less likely to be tenured.

Dr. Ginther’s research found that women economists who participated in the national CeMENT mentoring workshop of the American Economic Association have had a significant improvement in their career success rate compared to women economists who did not participate in the program. The workshop, held every year since 2004, provides intensive discussions on how to conduct research, get grants, publish, get tenure, how to network and how to balance work life.” The program also provides participants with women mentors and role models.

Dr. Ginther’s research followed the participant’s careers for 10 years after they participated in the workshop. She found that this mentoring opportunity increased the probability of these professionals of landing a tenure-stream job by 14.5 percent and finding one in a top-100 institution by more than 57 percent.

“If I could wave a wand and get rid of gender stereotypes, I would, but I can’t,” Dr. Ginther said. “So what’s the second best way? You give people tools to be successful.”

Professor Ginther received her doctorate in economics in 1995, master’s degree in economics in 1991, and bachelor’s degree in economics in 1987, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining the faculty at the University of Kansas 17 years ago, she was a research economist and associate policy adviser in the regional group of the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. She also taught at Washington University in St. Louis and Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Dr. Ginther’s research, appears in the new e-book, Women in Economics, that may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySTEM Fields


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