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The Shortage of Sheilas: Why so Few Women Economists at Macquarie?


  • Melanie Beresford

    () (Department of Economics, Macquarie University)

  • Andrea Chareunsy

    () (Department of Economics, Macquarie University)


Only 19 per cent of academic staff in the Economics Department at Macquarie University are women, a proportion that has not improved over the last decade. We investigate the reasons for this gender imbalance, focusing particularly on why it is that few qualified women have applied for positions. Declining numbers of economics graduates is a national phenomenon, but data from Macquarie show that this is a trend that particularly affects women. We found, from our surveys of staff and students in the Department, that the relative shortage of women is primarily related to attitudes and decisions taken either prior to the commencement of university studies or due to external influences such as pressure of family commitments. Interestingly, however, a higher proportion of female than male third-year students showed an interest in pursuing an academic career. While attitudes of staff were generally found to be gender neutral, we found some evidence that staff members could do more to encourage these students.

Suggested Citation

  • Melanie Beresford & Andrea Chareunsy, 2006. "The Shortage of Sheilas: Why so Few Women Economists at Macquarie?," Research Papers 0601, Macquarie University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mac:wpaper:0601

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    More about this item


    Gender equity; women economists; undergraduate and postgraduate economics; economics teaching; Macquarie University;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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