To Avoid Sexism on Job-Posting Site, Economists Petition to Start Their Own


A recent study found misogynist language on a website used to find economics jobs

More than 1,000 economists are calling on the American Economic Association to create its own job-search site in order to address sexism in their field.

The call comes after a recent study found vulgar and misogynist language directed toward women on a website used to find economics jobs. The site, Economics Job Market Rumors, includes job listings, conference announcements and message-board type comments on a range of topics, not all related to economics.

The economists signed a petition, to be released Thursday, that asks the professional association to create its own job-search site and to publicly condemn the treatment of women in anonymous comments on Economics Job Market Rumors.

The signees include Angus Deaton, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, former presidential economic advisers Christina Romer and Laura Tyson, and Harvard economist Carmen Reinhart. They were organized by Institute for Women’s Policy Research president Heidi Hartmann and University of California, Berkeley, economist Michael Reich.

The economists are seeking to address concerns described in a paper by Berkeley graduate student Alice H. Wu and highlighted by University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers in an August column he wrote for the New York Times.

Ms. Wu studied anonymous posts on the Economics Job Market Rumors website and associated words most frequently used in reference to women and men.

Many of the terms most associated with women were sexist or crude. Those included: “hotter,” “lesbian,” “tits” and “feminazi.” In contrast, among the words most associated with men were “adviser,” “bully,” and “prepare.”

“Is there any wonder why only a third of those who receive doctoral degrees in economics are women?” Dr. Hartmann asked. “Other fields, such as sociology, have done a better job at making the field open to women and gender-based analysis.”

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research said Economics Job Market Rumors is a well-used site because there are few other resources offering a broad look at available jobs in the profession.

An AEA-run site would protect users from sexist comments, improve transparency and fairness in the job market, and allow for better research into postings, the petition stated.

The association declined to comment Wednesday, but in a statement on its website said it “strongly condemns misogyny, racism, homophobia, antisemitism and other behaviors that harm our profession” and is exploring the possibility of creating a website and message board that would provide information on the job market for new Ph.D.s.

The administrator for Economics Job Market Rumors said Wednesday in an emailed statement that “sexism was already taken care of on EJMR a long time ago.” The respondent, identified as Kirk, declined to give a full name.

The statement said the study analyzed old data, and that the site has auto-deleted all sexist terms in newer posts and has used a team of moderators for more than a year. The site has a high percentage of male users because of the low number of female professors and students in the field, the statement said.

“This issue would not exist if economics was a more gender-balanced subject, but pointing the blame at EJMR is disingenuous,” the statement said. “More work needs to be done upstream, rather than accusing those downstream.”

—Josh Zumbrun contributed to this article.