Although women are underrepresented in the field of economics, many people see little
need for intervention, arguing that women are inherently less interested in economics, or are less
willing or able to acquire the math skills needed to do well in the subject. At the same time,
others support active efforts to increase the number of women in the field, pointing to other
possible causes of their current underrepresentation. These people argue, for example, that
women are deterred from entering the field because of a lack of female role models, or that
women are discouraged by an unappealing classroom environment. This study attempts to
assess these hypotheses. We examine the factors that influence undergraduate students’
decisions to become economics majors by analyzing a survey of students in the introductory
economics course at Harvard University as well as data on an entire class of students from
Harvard's registrar.
We find that although women in the introductory economics course at Harvard tend to
begin the course with a weaker math background than men, math background does not appear
to explain much of the gender difference in students’ decisions about whether to major in
economics. The class environment and the presence or absence of role models also do not
explain much of the gender gap. On the other hand, women do less well in economics relative
to their other courses than men do, and controlling for this difference in relative performance
significantly diminishes the estimated gender gap. An economically large, but statistically
insignificant, difference between sexes in the probability of majoring in economics remains,
however. This remaining gender gap may be due to differing tastes or information about the
nature of economics. As evidence, we find that women who were considering majoring in
economics when they began introductory economics were about as likely to choose economics
as were men.

Year of Publication
Date Published
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Citation Key
The Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 28, No. 4, Fall, 1997
Dynan, K. ., & Rouse, C. . (1995). The Underrepresentation of Women in Economics: A Study of Undergraduate Economics Students. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01p2676v532 (Original work published October 1995)
Working Papers

I examine changes in the incidence of long-term employment in the United
States using data from mobility supplements and pension and benefit supplements to the
Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1979 through 1996. After controlling for demo-
graphic characteristics, the fraction of workers reporting more than ten and more than
twenty years of tenure fell substantially after 1993 to its lowest level since 1979. This
decline was concentrated among men, while long-term employment relationships became
slightly more common among women. The decline in the incidence of long-term employ-
ment relationships for all workers was not mirrored in an increase in incidence on lost jobs
(jobs from which workers were laid off Thus, the evidence is not consistent with the view
that the decline in long-term employment relationships is the result of employers targeting
long-term employees for layoff. In fact, it was found that the share of displaced men who
are displaced from long-term employment relationships has declined since 1979. In the
end, long-term employment relationships remain an important feature of the U.S. labor
market, and women are represented more fully in these relationships than in the past.

Year of Publication
Date Published
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Citation Key
Farber, H. . (1997). Trends in Long Term Employment in the United States, 1979-96. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01g158bh309 (Original work published July 1997)
Working Papers

Women's labor force participation rate has increased sharply over the last two decades.
The increase has been particularly dramatic for married women with young children suggesting
that women are spending less time out of the labor force for child-bearing and rearing. Using the
relatively detailed information available in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this paper
explores women's decisions to return to work within one year of the birth of their first child,
focusing particularly on the effect of child care costs. By constructing two indices of child care
cost across states, I am able to utilize instrumental variables estimation to reduce the effect of
measurement error on the estimated influence of child care cost. Consistent with economic
theory, women who face lower child care costs are more likely to return to work after giving birth
as are women with higher potential wages and lower family income from other sources.

Year of Publication
Date Published
Publication Language
Citation Key
Barrow, L. . (1996). An Analysis of Women’s Labor Force Participation Following First Birth. Retrieved from http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01p2676v55c (Original work published June 1996)
Working Papers