Over on the INET blog, NSSR PhD student Alexandria Eisenbarth co-wrote a reflection on new research demonstrating little change in the overwhelmingly white and male makeup of the economics profession.
Responding to the wider social turmoil surrounding the Civil Rights struggle, the American Economics Association (AEA) in 1968 created its “Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession” (CSMGEP), tasking it with “increas[ing] the representation of minorities in the economics profession.” Three years later, the AEA formed its “Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession”(CSWEP) to promote “the principle that economics is a woman’s field as much as it is a man’s field.”
Both committees have included very senior economists and have received a good deal of attention within the AEA. It should be both notable and of great concern, then, that a new study some 45 years later confirms that “the economics profession includes disproportionately few women and members of historically underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups,” even when compared to other disciplines. Researchers Amanda Bayer and Cecilia Rouse find that, “this underrepresentation…is barely improving over time.”
Their report, titled “Diversity in the Economics Profession: A New Attack on an Old Problem,” is a collection of statistics that reveal significant ongoing disparities across the United States. For instance, women receive only 30% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in economics — a proportion unchanged for the past 20 years. Economics lies far below all other disciplines. In the case of the humanities, social sciences and STEM, women now account for nearly 60% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded. Though racial and ethnic minority students were awarded 22% of all bachelor’s degrees in 2014, the proportion in economics is only 14.7%. While all of the sampled discipline categories are struggling to maintain representative numbers of racial and ethnic minorities equivalent to population ratios, economics consistently trails behind.