Women in Economics Report Rampant Sexual Assault along with also Bias

Nearly 100 female economists say a peer or colleague has sexually assaulted them. Nearly 0 say they were the victim of an attempted assault. along with also hundreds say they were stalked or touched inappropriately, according to a far-reaching survey of the field.

The results, compiled by the American Economic Association, also reveal deep evidence of gender along with also racial discrimination within the field. Half of the women who responded to the survey said they had been treated unfairly because of their sex, compared with 3 percent of men. Nearly half of women said they had avoided speaking at a conference or seminar to guard against possible harassment or “disrespectful treatment.” Seven in 10 women said they felt their colleagues’ work was taken more seriously than their own.

More than 9,000 current along with also past members of the association, both men along with also women, took part from the survey. along with also the results have jolted the group’s leaders, who announced several measures on Monday to combat harassment along with also discrimination.

The moves include the appointment of an ombudsman empowered to investigate complaints of misbehavior by economists, along with also the threat of professional sanction — including the potential loss of prestigious awards — for economists who are found to violate a brand new anti-harassment code.

Ben S. Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman who today heads the economic association, said he was “concerned along with also disturbed” over what the survey revealed.

“This particular’s bad for economics,” Mr. Bernanke said. “This particular’s very unfair to those who are suffering in which discrimination, because economics will be a fascinating along with also interesting along with also lucrative field, along with also we don’t want to be excluding people for no Great reason. We appear to be dissuading talented people via entering the field.”

The alienation will be not limited to women. Among black economists surveyed, only 14 percent agreed with the statement in which “people of my race/ethnicity are respected within the field.”

Marianne Bertrand, a University of Chicago economist who oversaw the survey as the head of a special committee on the professional climate in economics, called the results distressing. “The responses are sort of a mandate” for the association along with also economics departments to act, she said.

Jennifer Doleac, a Texas A&M economist, said students along with also different young economists deserved credit for pushing for change. Alice Wu, an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, helped bring attention to the profession’s toxic culture in 2017 that has a thesis in which documented misogynistic comments on an online message board. Heather Sarsons, then a Harvard graduate student, later in which year published a paper showing in which women get less credit for work they do with male co-authors.

“There’s tremendous talent there in which we still have a chance to keep from the profession,” Ms. Doleac said. “I’m glad in which they’re speaking up along with also giving us a chance to do something.”

The 47-question survey was sent late last year to more than 45,000 current along with also former members of the A.E.A. The 9,000 who completed This particular, including more than a quarter of current members, represented a high rate for a voluntary survey.

Economists cautioned in which people could have been more likely to respond if they felt they had faced discrimination or harassment, along with also in which as a result the survey might not be representative of the profession as a whole.

although Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chief who will take over as president of the A.E.A. next year, said the raw numbers made the extent of the problem clear. Some 85 women reported having been physically assaulted by another economist, in many cases by a direct supervisor. More than one in a few women said they had been subjected to an unwanted sexual advance.

“The numbers are very troubling,” Ms. Yellen said. “What you see in This particular survey will be just an unacceptable culture.”

If anything, the survey most likely understates the problems. Despite efforts to reach former members, This particular left out many people who left the profession after facing discrimination or harassment, or who decided against becoming economists at all.

“We’re certainly surveying the winners,” said Lisa D. Cook, a Michigan State University economist who will be one of the field’s most prominent black women.

Ms. Cook said women, along with also particularly black women, had long felt in which their ideas were being dismissed or in which they weren’t being given the same opportunities as their white male colleagues. although she said she along with also her peers often pushed those suspicions to the side.

“I’m just going to keep being nice along with also one day people will believe me,” she said she remembers thinking earlier in her career. “I’m going to keep being smart along with also one day people will believe me. I’m going to keep sending out these papers along with also one day people will believe me.”

Indeed, the survey results also showed how harassment along with also discrimination ripple through the profession. A third of black economists said they had “not applied for or taken a particular employment position” to avoid harassment or discrimination. Nearly half of women said they had not presented an idea or asked a question at a conference or at their school for the same reason.

Martha Bailey, a University of Michigan economist along with also a member of the A.E.A.’s executive committee, said she was one of them. She said the survey — along with also a broader reckoning within economics in recent years — had forced many women to confront the possible impact in which sexism has had on them along with also their careers.

“There’s This particular part of me in which regrets those decisions, along with also there was a sadness when I took the survey,” Ms. Bailey said.

Women said the results were not, on one level, a surprise, confirming what many have experienced. although they said there was value in having numbers in which show how widespread the problems are.

“We’re economists,” Ms. Bailey said. “Numbers are important.”