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Women across Subfields in Economics: Relative Performance and Beliefs


  • P. Beneito
  • J. E. Boscá
  • J. Ferri
  • M. García


The relative scarcity of female students enrolling in economics has become entrenched over the last decade. We provide evidence of gender differences in performance and in preferences across subfields of the discipline and explore students’ beliefs about the profession and their opinions on different subjects. The areas where women stand out relative to men are those that seem to be least well known to our students. We work on three fronts. First, using web scraping and machine learning techniques, we document the relative presence of women across subfields in recent AEA annual meetings. Macroeconomics and finance register the greatest scarcity of women. Second, using administrative records for economics students in a large public university in Spain from 2010 to 2014, we find that women outperform men in microeconomics, while men outperform women in macroeconomics, more evidently in the upper tail of the grades distribution. Finally, data gathered through a self-statement survey given to economics majors reveal that (i) they hold a macroeconomics-biased view of the economics profession; (ii) they exhibit gender differences in their perceptions of the interest and difficulty inherent in different subfields (macro vs. microeconomics); and (iii) their interests and performance are influenced differently by their male and female peers in macro and microeconomics subjects. Taken together, these three pieces of evidence provide a plausible explanation as to why women are relatively less attracted than men to economics, and suggest lines of action to redress the imbalance

Suggested Citation

  • P. Beneito & J. E. Boscá & J. Ferri & M. García, 2018. "Women across Subfields in Economics: Relative Performance and Beliefs," Working Papers 2018-06, FEDEA.
  • Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2018-06

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Mujeres en Economía: dónde están, cómo les va y qué prefieren (I)
      by Javier Ferri in Nada Es Gratis on 2018-06-26 05:00:48
    2. Mujeres en Economía: dónde están, cómo les va y qué prefieren (II)
      by Javier Ferri in Nada Es Gratis on 2018-06-27 05:07:58


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    Cited by:

    1. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Juan-José Ganuza & Manu García & Luis A. Puch, 2021. "Gender Distribution across Topics in Top 5 Economics Journals: A Machine Learning Approach," Working Papers 1241, Barcelona School of Economics.
    2. Sierminska, Eva & Oaxaca, Ronald L., 2022. "Gender differences in economics PhD field specializations with correlated choices," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    3. Verónica Amarante & Marisa Bucheli & María Inés Moraes & Tatiana Pérez, 2021. "Women in Research in Economics in Uruguay," Revista Cuadernos de Economía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia -FCE - CID, vol. 40(84), pages 763-790, October.
    4. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Manu García & Manuel Yáñez, 2018. "Diversidad de Género en los Consejos: el caso de España tras la Ley de Igualdad," Studies on the Spanish Economy eee2018-29, FEDEA.
    5. Fabiana Rocha & Paula Pereda, Maria Dolores, Gabriel Monteiro, Luiza Karpavicius, Liz Matsunaga, Bruna Borges, Clara, 2022. "Gender gaps in low and high-stakes assessments," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2022_14, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    6. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Juan José Ganuza & Manuel García, 2020. "Gender Gap and Multiple Choice Exams in Public Selection Processes," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 235(4), pages 11-28, December.
    7. Anna Costello & Ekaterina Fedorova & Zhijing Jin & Rada Mihalcea, 2022. "Editing a Woman's Voice," Papers 2212.02581,, revised Feb 2023.
    8. Pilar Beneito & Inés Rosell, 2018. "Gender responses to competitive pressure in college: a regression discontinuity design," Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour 0518, University of Valencia, ERI-CES.

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