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Making the Field of
Economics More

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Insights from this climate study will help to improve the working environment for economists in a variety of sectors by developing profession-wide programming and policy initiatives.

Ann Kearns Davoren, Research Scientist
Education & Child Development

NORC has a long history of evaluating the professional climates of colleges and universities, leading to policies that make campuses more equitable, inclusive, and safe for everyone. Over the last couple of years, we’ve expanded this work into national academic and science-related associations, providing them with critical data about their members’ experiences in a variety of workplaces.

In October 2019, we completed a climate study for the American Economic Association (AEA), who tasked us with gathering vital information about the field of economics, specifically factors that limit inclusiveness, harass individuals, or cause incivility in work environments. All current and former (dating back nine years) AEA members were invited to participate. We heard from economists across a variety of work settings, including academic, government, and private and public sectors.

Our survey revealed that men and women have very different perceptions of their working environments. When asked, for example, about satisfaction with the overall climate within the field of economics, men were twice as likely as women to report that they are satisfied with the climate.

Nearly half of female economists reported being discriminated against or treated unfairly based on their sex.

AEA is using the findings to develop policies and initiatives to address harassment and discrimination within the profession. Building on the success of the AEA survey, we are now conducting a similar survey designed specifically for the Canadian Economics Association.