Women department chairs matter

While the empirical evidence that VP’s for Diversity, 5-year IDEAL plans, mandatory implicit bias training, and expensive “Diversity Action Plans” like we have at UO make any difference is at best mixed, this new paper – from a new Princeton economist – makes it pretty clear that having a female department chair does matter:

Appointing female managers is a common proposal to improve women’s representation and outcomes in the workplace, but it is unclear how well such policies accomplish these goals. I study the effect of female managers on workforce composition, the gender pay gap, productivity, and promotion in the context of academic departments. Using newly-collected panel data, I exploit variation in the timing of transitions between male and female department chairs with a difference-in-differences research design. I find female department chairs reduce gender gaps in publications and tenure for assistant professors and shrink the gender pay gap. Replacing a male chair with a female chair also increases the number of female students among incoming graduate cohorts by ten percent with no evidence of a change in ability correlates for the average student.

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3 Responses to Women department chairs matter

  1. Rhedude says:

    While the study has garnered some press, those are some of the worst looking event studies I’ve ever seen. Title of the paper might as well be “Departments pick female department heads when the times are good”

    Nothing in that paper looks causal.

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  2. Deplorable Duck says:

    Naively, I would have imagined that having more women dept chairs would lead to such results, simply via favoritism, even prior to this paper. The paper does seem to warn against this idea in its conclusion

    The lesson from this paper is not that it is always necessarily better for a woman to
    work in a female-chaired department, or that chairs show favoritism towards individuals of
    their own gender. Rather, this research reinforces other findings that suggest managers from
    different backgrounds often take different approaches, highlighting the value of diversity
    among decision-makers.

    But does the data actually say that chairs don’t show favoritism towards their genders, or is he just warning us not to think such impure thoughts?

    As for the increase in equally abled women grad students, that sounds good, but where do we imagine these students are coming from? If they’re simply being pulled from departments chaired by men, this change is of little value. Perhaps even negative value if it’s just a symptom of departments segregating by sexes.

    (I’ve had bosses of both genders over my career, and on the whole have been better treated by the women. In this brave new world of blistering identity politics, though, I’d be somewhat wary these days.)

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  3. MAGA Duck says:

    Women work together as an in-group, color me surprised.

    I don’t know how any of you are confused by Trump. Guess what? The majority can in-group too!

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