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What Does It Take to Be Top Women Economists? An Analysis Using Rankings in RePEc

Giulia Zacchia

Review of Political Economy, 2021, vol. 33, issue 2, 170-193

Abstract: Women are substantially under-represented in the field of economics: their progress is slow and just few women reach top positions. From the 1980s, studies document the clear barriers and implicit biases in publishing, promotion, and tenure that women face. The paper aims at studying gender differences focusing on ‘excellence'. Using RePEc as a dataset, I test how different definitions of excellence can systematically advantage or disadvantage women’s visibility in rankings of top economists and how it impacts on their probability to receive rightful recognition in academia. I found that, even among top economists, being a woman significantly reduces the probability of reaching the top of the profession. The results also underline a problematic relationship between gender and excellence that sets the bar higher for women in reaching the top of the academic career. Women economists, despite their efforts, tend to receive less recognition than men in terms of promotion to full-professorship based on the criterion of excellence in which they excel. Challenging the assumption about gender neutral excellence is a first important step to disrupt power hierarchical patriarchal structures in the economics profession and to advance the representation of women and diverse individuals in apical roles in economics.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2020.1848624

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