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Gender Differences in Predispositions towards Economics


  • Cynthia Bansak

    (Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, NY 13617, USA)

  • Martha Starr

    (Department of Economics, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA)


Research has found that women tend to have more negative predispositions towards studying economics than men, which contributes to their underrepresentation in the field. This paper uses survey data on principles students at a large state university to investigate causes of this difference. We find that students widely view economics as a business-oriented field that prioritizes math skills and making money — a combination that is a turnoff for women, but not so much men. Thus, emphasizing uses of economics for social welfare analysis, while de-emphasizing its business applications, may help to rebalance predispositions at the outset of the principles class.

Suggested Citation

  • Cynthia Bansak & Martha Starr, 2010. "Gender Differences in Predispositions towards Economics," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 33-57.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:easeco:v:36:y:2010:i:1:p:33-57

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    Cited by:

    1. Amanda Bayer & David W. Wilcox, 2019. "The unequal distribution of economic education: A report on the race, ethnicity, and gender of economics majors at U.S. colleges and universities," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(3), pages 299-320, July.

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