Diversity in the Economics Profession: A New Attack on an Old Problem

Author
Abstract
The economics profession includes disproportionately few women and members of historically
underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, relative both to the overall population and to
other academic disciplines. The relative lack of women, African Americans, Hispanics, and
Native Americans within economics is present at the undergraduate level, continues throughout
the academy, and is barely improving over time. In this paper, we present data on the presence
of women and minority groups in the profession and offer an overview of current research on the
reasons for the imbalance, highlighting that implicit attitudes and institutional practices may be
contributing at all stages of the pipeline. We review evidence on how diversity affects
productivity and conclude that the underrepresentation likely hampers the discipline,
constraining the range of issues addressed and limiting our collective ability to understand
familiar issues from new and innovative perspectives. Broadening the pool from which
professional economists are drawn is not just about fairness; it is necessary to ensure the
profession produces robust and relevant knowledge. We propose remedial interventions along
with evidence on effectiveness, identifying several promising practices, programs, and areas for
future research.
Year of Publication
2016
Number
597
Date Published
07/2016
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
9451
URL
Working Papers