From the National Bureau of Economic Research, a new paper by econ quasi-Nobelist David Card:
Gender Gaps at the Academies
David Card, Stefano DellaVigna, Patricia Funk & Nagore Iriberri
WORKING PAPER 30510
ISSUE DATE September 2022
Historically, a large majority of the newly elected members of the National Academy of Science (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts and Science (AAAS) were men.
These are prestigious organizations for senior academics with impressive research track records of at least two decades in length.
Within the past two decades, however, that situation has changed, and in the last 3 years women made up about 40 percent of the new members in both academies. We build lists of active scholars from publications in the top journals in three fields – Psychology, Mathematics and Economics – and develop a series of models to compare changes in the probability of selection of women as members of the NAS and AAAS from the 1960s to today, controlling for publications and citations. In the early years of our sample, women were less likely to be selected as members than men with similar records. By the 1990s, the selection process at both academies was approximately gender-neutral, conditional on publications and citations. In the past 20 years, however, a positive preference for female members has emerged and strengthened in all three fields. Currently, women are 3-15 times more likely to be selected as members of the AAAS and NAS than men with similar publication and citation records. …
Another way to interpret the magnitudes for the most recent decade is to ask: if we were to inflate the numbers of publications and the numbers of citations of all female researchers by a certain percentage, how large would the boost have to be to fully eliminate the estimated female effect? In psychology the estimated boost to publications and citations for female researchers is 73 percent. In economics and mathematics the estimated boost is even larger, at 104 percent in economics and 245 percent in mathematics. One interpretation of this boost is that represents the adjustment needed to compensate for the additional difficulties that female candidates have had in publishing their work and getting cited, e.g., in psychology, a female scholar’s publications and citations are about 73 percent lower than would be expected for a male who has done similar work.
I could see an argument for admitting women who are mothers with less productivity—they are probably smarter than their CV would suggest—but of course that implies there should be no thumb on the scale for admitting women who are not mothers.
An alternative interpretation is that it reflects a preference of the academies to achieve higher diversity and inclusion with respect to the gender composition. We return to the interpretations of the findings in the conclusion. …
While these fields span a wide range of female representation, we find much in common in the patterns we estimate. Across all three fields, for the earliest period we study, 1960-1979, we find suggestive evidence that female researchers were, if anything, held to a higher bar than males. Indeed, in economics there were no female members of the NAS elected until 1989 and in mathematics there were no female members of the AAAS elected until 1984. This pattern, the “Matilda Effect” hypothesized by Rossiter (1993), is consistent with anecdotal evidence of unfair treatment of female researchers in this period. It is perhaps more surprising that the extent of this finding is similar for disciplines with very few female researchers like mathematics and economics, as well as for a discipline with a higher share of women like psychology.
In the next time period, 1980-1999, we again find a fairly similar pattern across the three fields. In this period, female researchers were generally more likely to be inducted into the AAAS and NAS conditional on publications and citations.
So these organizations have had affirmative action for women for over 40 years now. But during the Great Awokening it has gotten really flagrant, just like you’d imagine from reading all the anti-male hate literature in mainstream media.
The gender differences are small in magnitude in some cases (e.g., in psychology) and fairly large in other cases (e.g., economics in the 1980s and mathematics in the 1990s). In the most recent decades, 2000-19, we find consistent evidence that female scholars in all three fields are more likely to be inducted into the AAAS and NAS than male scholars with similar records. The magnitudes of the gender gaps in the 2010-2019 period are especially large and imply that women are 3 or more times more likely to be made members of the two academies than males, holding constant research productivity.
So far, the three hard science Nobel Prizes have best resisted the Spirit of the Age. They just announced the physics Nobel and it went to three white men, Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, for work involving entangled photons that I’d never understand in a million years. The Nobel Prizes do have some brand equity to expend defending the principle of fairness.