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Research performance, academic promotion, and gender disparities: Analysis of data on agricultural economists in Chinese higher education

Lijuan Cao, Jing Zhu and Hua Liu

Agricultural Economics, 2023, vol. 54, issue 2, 307-326

Abstract: This paper provides an overall picture of women's representation and gender parity in the field of Agricultural Economics by constructing and analyzing a database of agricultural economists in China. We find that female scholars “occupy half the sky” in number, but not all the way up to the higher‐ranking academic positions. Women lag behind men in terms of research performance and academic promotion; even more so, gender disparity becomes more prominent when moving up the ranking ladder. A closer examination of agricultural economists of different age cohorts indicates that the gender gap, both in numbers engaged in the profession and academic performance measured by Chinese paper publications and nation‐level projects chaired, is narrowing. However, gaps in the number of high‐quality paper publications and the time span before promotion, alongside the phenomenon of a “leaky pipeline” in academia, are growing significantly over time. The representation of “star scientists” shows similar, yet steeper trends. In the absence of detailed studies, the paper explores possible explanations of the converging gender gap in scale but increasing gender disparity that is termed a “leaky pipeline.” It concludes that the Policy of Enrollment Expansion in Higher Education provides vulnerable young females with more opportunities to access higher education, which increases both the number and proportion of women in the profession.

Date: 2023
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