RES Survey on the Gender Balance of Academic Economics 2004

In our last issue, Jane Humphries, Chair of the RES Women’s Committee, reported some preliminary results from the 2004 survey of gender and ethnic balance in UK academic economics. This article, prepared by Jonathan Burton and Jane Humphries, reports more fully on the findings on gender balance.

Towards the end of 2004 the Royal Economic Society (RES) conducted a survey of the gender balance in academic employment in economics in Britain. This was the fifth survey in a series started in 1996, and repeated bi-annually thereafter (Mumford 1997; Booth and Burton 2000; Burton, Joshi and Rowlatt, 2002; Burton and Joshi, 2004). In 1998, the RES also undertook a survey into the ethnic composition of academic employment in economics (Blackaby and Frank, 2000), and since 2000 these surveys have been combined. These excerpts from the full report on the survey’s findings concentrate on gender balance. The full report is available on the RES website at:

The Gender and Ethnic Balance questionnaire was sent out to around 168 institutions.1 These included departments of economics (52), business schools (75) and management centres (26). In the last survey (2002), the decline in the proportion of departments describing themselves as departments of ‘Economics’ and the growth of departments, centres or schools of ‘Business and Management’ was noted. This shift has been consolidated. Departments calling themselves ‘Economics’ fell from two-thirds of the sample in 2000 to just over one-third in 2002 (36 per cent) and 2004 (34 per cent), while those identified as business schools increased from 30 per cent in 2000 to 49 per cent in both 2002 and 2004, and as management centres from 5.5 per cent in 2000 to 15 per cent in 2002 and 17 per cent in 2004.

The survey aimed to collect information as of November 30th 2004 on academic staff (full-time and part-time) by grade of employment, promotions and new hires, research staff, and graduate students of economics by level of postgraduate degree (PhD and Masters degrees). Only basic information was sought: the numbers in each category broken down by gender and ethnic group.

By the end of August 2005, 79 completed questionnaires had been returned. This represents a decline from the 88 received in 2002. In 1998 we finished with a total of 82 completed questionnaires and in 2000 the total was 79. However as fewer questionnaires were issued in 2004, the response-rate (at 47 per cent of eligible institutions) was higher than in 2002 (when it was 46 per cent), both figures representing a decline from the 60 per cent response rate obtained in 2000. The best response was from economics departments (72 per cent). The response from business schools (44 per cent) was low but not as low as from management centres (22.7 per cent).2

Institutions that received a higher RAE grade in the 2001 assessment were slightly more likely to respond. Almost two-thirds (62.5 per cent) of departments with a 5* rating participated in the survey compared to just over half of those rated 4 or under (55.5 per cent).3

In the analyses which follow we make use of both the sample of all responding departments and for comparative purposes balanced panels made up of departments responding to several surveys, particularly to the balanced panel of those 53 departments that responded in both 2002 and 2004. When making comparisons over time it makes more sense to use a balanced panel made up of the same departments. Otherwise, it is difficult to disentangle the effect of change over time and the changing composition of the samples. To ensure that response, and particularly multiple response, has not selected an unrepresentative sample, the balanced panel was compared with the sample of all responding departments and where possible both were compared with data on all eligible departments from other sources. The balanced panel is similar in terms of size, RAE rating and RAE unit of assessment to the sample of responding departments. Both the balanced panel and the sample of responding departments are similar to the population in terms of RAE score, but over-represent those departments assessed in the RAE unit ‘Economics and Econometrics’ and so may under-report the true proportion of women post-holders in academic economics.4

According to Table 1, below, as at November 30th 2004, there were 1398.5 full-time economists working in academia in the 79 departments that participated in the survey (around 100 fewer than reported at work in the 88 departments responding in 2002). Just over one-fifth (20.5 per cent) of all these staff were women, a slight increase on the 19 per cent reported in 2002. In the balanced panel there was an increase in standard academic staff numbers from 830 in 2002 to 928 in 2004. The proportion of staff in these departments who were female also increased from 14 per cent to 17 per cent.

But these small gains do not bring women's representation into line with the university sector as a whole, where about one third (35.1 per cent) of all full-time academic staff and about 13.1 per cent of professors are female (HESA figures for 2003/2004). A partial explanation for this gap must be that the study of economics is relatively unattractive to women. However, the proportion of women at the higher levels of the economic academic profession remains substantially below the proportion studying economics at a postgraduate level or the proportion in post at the entry level of an academic career.

Most academic jobs are full-time and remain so despite minor changes over time. Between the 1996 and 2000 surveys there was an increase in the proportion of academic economists who worked full-time (from 84.3 per cent to 92 per cent). In November 2002 this proportion had fallen to 87.6 per cent but by November 2004 it had increased again to 90.7 per cent. In the balanced panel the proportion of full-time academic posts fell very slightly from 89.7 per cent to 88.9 per cent.

In the responding sample, women held 17.7 per cent of full-time standard academic posts, up from just 13.5 per cent in 2002 and close to the 2000 proportion of 19 per cent. The proportion of full-time researchers who were women fell slightly to 39.4 per cent, down from 41.5 per cent measured in 2002 and closer to the 38.3 per cent of 2000.6 For all full-time academics (standard and research) women held just over one-fifth (20.5 per cent) of posts, up from 17.8 per cent in 2002 and, again, closer to the 19 per cent of 2000. In the balanced panel, 19 per cent of full-time workers were women compared with 17.8 per cent in those same departments 2 years earlier.

In the responding sample, the vast majority of women in academic economics, 87.2 per cent worked full-time, close to the 91.6 per cent of men who worked full-time. This represents a large increase in the proportion of women who are working full-time, up around 10 per cent from 2002. The evidence of the balanced panel echoes this move towards more full-time employment for female academics. In 2002, 83.8 per cent of female academics were in full-time positions (compared to 91 per cent of men). Those same departments two years later reported 87.8 per cent of women in full-time positions, with the proportion of men (90.9 per cent) unchanged.

The survey distinguishes among standard academic positions (professor, reader, senior lecturer, lecturer) and between these posts and research-only positions. Most of the jobs in academic economics are standard, 88.3 per cent in 2004, and this proportion has changed only slightly over time, falling from 92.5 per cent in 2002 but closer in line to the 87.5 per cent recorded in 2000, 86 per cent in 1998 and 85.7 per cent in 1996. Minor variation in the structure of employment may reflect the composition of the responding samples in the different years. For the set of institutions responding in both 2002 and 2004 there was almost no change in the dominance of standard academic jobs (87.7 per cent and 87.6 per cent respectively).

As in previous years, the representation of women varied sharply with seniority, a pattern that remained marked even though women appear to have increased their share of posts at all grades compared with the responding sample in 2002. Despite these gains, while 23.7 per cent of permanent lecturers were women, this figure fell to 15.4 per cent for senior lecturers, 16.8 per cent for readers, and 8.9 per cent for professors. In the balanced panel, trends appear more complicated with a greater proportion of the more senior academic positions being taken by women, but the proportions at grades lower down the career ladder either staying stable or even falling slightly. These trends are explored in more detail below.

Also in common with previous years, in the responding sample, proportionately fewer women than men held standard academic jobs (78.4 per cent compared with 91 per cent). The balanced panel shows that, within the same departments, proportionately more women than in 2002 were in academic positions (76 per cent compared to 73 per cent).

Full-time standard academic positions
A closer look at the position of women in full-time academic economics confirms an increase in the proportions of women at higher grades. Using the balanced panel — comparing like with like — in 2002 women held just 6.4 per cent of all professorships while in 2004 this had risen to 9.6 per cent. Women readers also increased from 11.8 per cent of all readers to 17.7 per cent. On the other hand the proportion of female senior lecturers fell slightly from 16.1 per cent to 13.7 per cent while the proportion of female permanent lecturers stayed around the same, 19.4 per cent in 2002 and 21.7 per cent in 2004. More worrying perhaps, especially as there was no corresponding increase in women holding permanent posts, the proportion of female fixed-term lecturers fell from just over one-third (33.9 per cent) in 2002 to just over one-quarter (26.5 per cent) in 2004.

Figure 1 shows changes in the proportions of women by grade in academic economics between 2002 (black columns) and 2004 (grey columns), for the balanced panel, highlighting both the gains made at senior grades and the persisting pattern of lower representation with higher seniority and status. The bar chart also illustrates the greater proportions of women in 2004 than in 2002 among permanent lecturers, senior researchers and permanent researchers; in 2002 there were no female permanent researchers within these departments. Overall, women represent a larger proportion of all staff in 2004. However, these gains must be set against decreasing proportions of female senior lecturers, fixed-term lecturers and fixed-term researchers. While the fall in the proportion of women among fixed-term staff (lecturers and researchers) may be a positive development, reflecting a move into permanent positions, the decline in the relative numbers of women senior lecturers may be of some concern since a senior lectureship constitutes an important milestone in an academic career, leading onto the grades of reader and professor.

Figure 2 shifts the focus from gender proportions within sub-sets of academic employment to consider the distribution of female and male academics across grades while still concentrating on the balanced panel and full-time standard academic jobs. The first pie chart shows the distribution of all women academics in 2004.

Some 15 per cent of all women were professors (up from 13 per cent in the same departments in 2002), 9 per cent were readers (up from 5 per cent) and 17 per cent were senior lecturers (down from 25 per cent). The largest proportion of women in full-time standard academic posts were permanent lecturers, 45 per cent, up from 40.5 per cent in 2002. The proportion of all women occupying the lowest rung on the career ladder, fixed-term lectureships, has fallen slightly from 16 per cent to 14 per cent. This finding has both an optimistic or pessimistic interpretation. Either there has been a move from senior lecturer upwards to higher ranks, and from fixed-term lecturers up to permanent lecturers; or there has been a failure to maintain the proportion of women among female recruits: both possibilities are explored below.

Figure 3 illustrates the distribution of male academics clearly showing their greater likelihood of attaining professorships. More than one in four male academics (28 per cent) were professors. Thus men were almost twice as likely as women to be professors, but this is a lower lead than in the same departments two years earlier when they were around 2.4 times as likely to be professors. Men were also more likely to hold a senior lectureship (1.3) but less likely to be a reader (0.95), a permanent lecturer (0.74) or a fixed-term lecturer (0.57). Although the proportion of men holding professorships has fallen slightly since 2002, when, in the same departments, 31 per cent of men were professors, there has been little change elsewhere in the male employment structure. A similar proportion of men were readers and senior lecturer, 30.5 per cent in 2004 and 31.1 per cent in 2002 and around one man in three was a permanent lecturer in both years, while just 8 per cent of men were fixed-term lecturers (up from 5.2 per cent). Thus although women have made some limited progress towards more senior grades, men remain more likely to be at a higher rank.

The ‘role model effect’
In Table 2, below, we update an investigation begun in 2002 into the possibility that some departments experience a ‘role model effect’ The hypothesis is that departments with female professors find it easier to recruit and promote other women. Table 2, below, looks at the proportion of female readers, senior lecturers and lecturers in departments with and without a female professor. The first two columns of Table 2 show the percentages of staff below the professorial grade that were female. The first column relates to departments with at least one female professor, the second column to those with no female professors. The table shows that just over one-tenth of all departments with a female professor had no female readers, senior lecturers or lecturers compared to just over one-fifth of those departments without a female professor. Over two-fifths (42.1 per cent) of departments with a female professor had 30 per cent or more of standard academic positions below professor, filled by women, while only 17.2 per cent of departments without a female professor had 30 per cent or more of standard posts below professorships filled by women. Just 18 departments had more than 30 per cent of their reader, senior lecturer and lecturer posts taken by women. Of these departments, ten had a female professor and eight did not. These differences might suggest that the presence of one senior woman in a department enhances the representation of women more generally in that department, but they are not statistically significant. Moreover there is an alternative explanation. Departments with a female professor had an average of 16.1 members of staff below the professorial level, while those without a female professor had only 10.3.7 The larger size of the ‘role model departments’ might have raised the chances of hiring ‘minority’ candidates. Size not a female presence and influence might explain their greater feminization.

The average proportion of female staff below the level of professor was higher in departments where there was at least one female professor (24.8 per cent female staff below professor compared to 18.5 per cent). But again this difference is not statistically significant. Moreover it is smaller than in previous surveys which may suggest that other factors such as the size of the department affected both the number of female professors and the proportion of female staff below professorial grade.

Analysis by RAE grade
The responses were analysed to see whether there were differences in gender balance by type of department. If, for example, there were differences between those departments with a higher RAE score and those with a lower score it might reflect some RAE-related hiring behaviour. Figure 4, below, shows the proportion of female staff (full-time academic) by the RAE grade of the department. The departments were divided into those which scored a 1, 2, 3a or 3b and those which scored a 4, 5 or 5* grade in the 2001 RAE. There were 35 departments in the 1-3 category (black bars in fig 4) and 38 in the 4+ category (grey bars in fig.4). Previous surveys found that higher-rated departments tended to have a higher proportion of female staff in the higher academic grades.

In 2004 the situation was more mixed. On average, departments rated 1-3 in the 2001 RAE had relatively more posts held by women than those rated 4+ (19.2 per cent compared to 16.6 per cent respectively). Departments that were rated 1-3 had a much higher proportion of female professors than did departments rated 4+ (14.5 per cent compared with 6.4 per cent). The same was true for fixed-term lecturers where departments rated 1-3 had 42.1 per cent of posts filled by women whereas departments rated 4+ had 22.5 per cent filled by women. Although the gap was smaller, the lower-rated departments also had a higher proportion of female staff at the senior lecturer grade than did the 4+ departments (16.8 per cent compared to 14.9 per cent). Only in terms of readerships and permanent lectureships was this relationship reversed with departments rated 4, 5 or 5* containing slightly higher proportions of female readers and permanent lecturers (15.7 per cent and 25.8 per cent respectively) compared with lower-rated departments where the proportions were 14.3 per cent and 20.8 per cent respectively. This pattern might be explained by the concentration of recruitment in those departments that did not fare so well in the RAE. As new hires are more likely to be female than are staff already in post, the proportion of female staff would then increase in lower-rated departments. Perhaps as a result, women get stuck as professors in departments that are rated lower in the RAE and have difficulty getting a similar position at higher-rated institutions.

During the 2001 RAE departments could be rated under different units of assessment. The data were analysed to see if there were any differences between departments rated in the ‘Economics and Econometrics unit and those rated in the ‘Business and Management’ unit. Twenty-eight of the departments that responded to the survey were assessed as economics and econometrics departments and forty as business and management departments. Departments in older universities have tended to be assessed as economics departments whilst those in newer universities (and former polytechnics) have opted for assessment under the business unit. Figure 5, below, shows the proportion of female staff (full-time academic) under each unit of assessment. Again the results are mixed. Overall those departments rated in the business and management unit had a slightly higher proportion of female staff compared with those departments rated in the economics and econometrics unit (18.2 per cent compared to 16 per cent). There were higher proportions of female readers and female permanent lecturers in the economics units and higher proportions of female professors, senior lecturers and fixed-term lecturers in the business units.

Part-time employment
According to the balanced panel, part-time working in academic economics has declined since 2002. Only 105 posts were reported as part-time in 2004 down from 111 in the same departments in 2002. Thus the proportion of academic economists working part-time has declined from 10.3 per cent in 2002 to 9 per cent in 2004. Women's share of all part-time standard academic posts has also fallen from 29.7 per cent in 2002 to 24.8 per cent in the same departments in 2004. Simultaneously the proportion of all women who work part-time has also declined from 16.2 per cent in 2002 to 12.2 per cent in the same departments in 2004.

Research grades
According to the balanced panel, in 2004 there were 135 research-only jobs, up slightly from 2002 when the same departments reported 132 research jobs. Women held 37.8 per cent of these jobs (down from 41.7 per cent in 2002). As in previous surveys, most research-only jobs were fixed-term, however the composition has shifted slightly in the last two years, possibly in response to the legislation on fixed-term employment, with relatively more of these jobs becoming permanent. Thus 71.1 per cent of full-time research-only jobs were fixed-term according to the 2004 survey compared with 79.5 per cent in 2002.

Of all women in research-only jobs, 16.9 per cent were senior researchers. This is a large increase from the 2002 survey where only 8.8 per cent of female researchers held senior posts. The gain is discernible too in the balanced panel, where the proportion of female researchers at senior level has increased from 12.7 per cent to 17.6 per cent. Just over one-tenth of female researchers were classified as permanent researchers (11.3 per cent), another increase from 2002. In the balanced panel there were no female permanent researchers in 2002, while two years later there were six (11.8 per cent of all female researchers and 40 per cent of all permanent researchers). The terms and conditions of researchers' employment did not vary obviously by gender with roughly the same proportions of female and male researchers on fixed-term contracts (70.6 per cent and 71.4 per cent respectively). But in research grades too despite women's progress up the academic hierarchy men remain more likely to occupy senior positions, 1.3 times as likely given that 21.1 per cent of male researchers hold senior posts compared with 16.9 per cent of female researchers as cited above. Unequal as this looks it represents an improvement compared with previous years. In the balanced panel there has been an even greater move to equality. In 2002, 22.1 per cent of male researchers held senior posts compared to 12.7 per cent of female researchers. In the same departments two years later these proportions had moved to 17.9 per cent of male and 17.6 per cent of female researchers. Male researchers have gone from being 1.7 times as likely to just about as likely to occupy a senior post.

The survey also collected information on promotions, which were distinguished from new hires. Promotions were assumed to be internal to the department while new hires were assumed to be brought in from outside. Responding institutions recorded 173 promotions over the two years, 2002-2004. There was a similar number of promotions to professor (41) and to reader (43), more to senior lecturer (60) and fewer to permanent lecturer (29). Almost a quarter (23.1 per cent) of promotions were won by women; however this is an average over all grades. The proportion of promotions that was obtained by women varied inversely with seniority and status. Of promotions to professor, only 4, (9.8 per cent) went to women. Just under a quarter (23.3 per cent) of promotions to reader were of women, while just over a quarter (26.7 per cent) of promotions to senior lecturer were of women. The highest share of promotions going to women were at permanent lecturer grade where over a third (34.5 per cent) were achieved by women.

Table 3, below, looks at women’s share of promotions between 2002 and 2004 by grade and compares these with the proportions of women already in post at these grades in 2004 (all staff, minus promotions) and the proportion of women in the grade below, which can be thought of as ‘the feeder grade’. Women constituted a higher proportion among those advanced at each grade than they did among staff already at that grade. So, promotions increased the representation of women at every level.

Other than for professorships, women also represented a higher proportion among those advanced than they did among staff in the feeder grade, that is the grade below. So, 23.3 per cent of promotions to reader were of women, who had made up just 12.1 per cent of staff at that grade before promotions and only 12.1 per cent of senior lecturers, the grade below reader and assumed to source promotions to readerships. In this case, women were promoted at a higher rate than their relative frequency in the feeder grade would have suggested. This does not hold true of promotions to professor, however. Almost 10 per cent of promotions to professor were of female academics, which exceeds the pre-promotions proportion of female professors (8.7 per cent) but was lower than the proportion of women in the feeder grade of reader (12.1 per cent).

New staff
Reported new staff, that is staff taken on since November 2002 not including internal promotions, were identified and the proportion female in each grade computed before and after hiring. For all standard academic ranks the effect of new hires was to increase the proportion of staff made up by women. At each grade women made up a bigger proportion of new staff than they did in the grade originally. The effect is not large - for the more senior positions the proportion occupied by women increased by less than one percent (0.3 per cent for professors, 0.5 per cent for senior lecturers, but 1.1 per cent for readers) as a result of new hires. At the more junior positions, the proportion of female permanent lecturers increased by 2.3 per cent and the proportion of fixed-term lecturers increased by 1.7 per cent. The same process was at work in research grades. Women represented a bigger proportion of new researchers than their weight in the category originally. The effect of the new hires was to increase the proportion of women by 2.3 per cent among senior researchers, 1.5 per cent for fixed-term researchers and by 17.1 per cent for permanent researchers. There are however very few permanent researchers, just 17 in the whole sample.

Table 4, below, uses the balanced panel to compare new staff in 2004 and 2002. Reported new hires declined for most categories of full-time staff except readers where there was a slight absolute increase and permanent lecturers where there was a much larger absolute increase. Women represented larger proportions of new full-time staff at the highest levels (professors and readers) and among permanent lecturers in 2004 compared with 2002.

Table 5, below, tracks new staff to highlight their role in the improving gender balance. The first column shows the proportion of women in the staff at each grade as at November 2004, excluding academics hired between 30 November 2002 and 30 November 2004 (‘original staff’). The next column shows the proportion of women in the staff hired between those dates. This highlights the position of women in the departments before the new staff were included, and the effect that hiring had on the gender balance. For all grades, standard academic and research, women made up a larger proportion of new hires than they did of original staff. In this sense new hires, along with promotions, both contributed to improved gender balance. However, the third column casts a shadow over these progressive developments by recollecting the proportions of women in the ‘feeder grades’, transposed from column 1. This makes it clear that although new hires represented relative gains for women these were not always greater than might be expected from the female proportions in the feeder grades. Thus while for professors and senior lecturers, the proportions of women among new staff exceeded the proportions of women among original staff, they fell short of the proportions of women in the feeder grades.

Change over time: balanced panel
When the comparison is done for the balanced panel, outflows as well as inflows can be identified. Table 6 shows the change in the number of men and women at each grade computed across the two surveys. The numbers of new staff in these grades plus the numbers of promoted staff to each grade have already been identified. The outflows can then be inferred as the residuals. It is impossible to say whether these outflows represent promotions, retirements, other employment, departures from the labour force, or departures from the UK. Looking back to figure 1 and consistent with our analysis of new staff and promotions it is apparent that the proportion of women in the inflows is higher than in the stocks at all grades except for fixed-term lecturers. More surprising, the proportion of women in the outflows from senior lectureships and fixed term lectureships are both higher than in the inflows and stocks at these grades. While the RES survey cannot uncover the reasons for women’s exodus from the profession at these levels, it appears of some importance in understanding the evolution of gender balance.

A longer view: 1996-2004
The 2004 survey was the fifth survey of the gender balance of academic economics. The questionnaire has changed slightly over time limiting possible comparisons between the earliest survey (1996) and the more recent surveys. The earliest survey did not cover ethnic minorities and some of the standard academic positions were amalgamated. There are other reasons for caution in interpretation. The pace of structural and administrative change in academia over the eight years of surveys has been rapid: departments merging, splitting, closing and opening. This brief section looks at the change between 1996 and 2004 for another balanced panel, that is those 56 departments responding in both these years. The departments in this eight year balanced panel cannot be taken as representative of all the economics departments in the country but do provide some insight into longer term changes.

Within these departments the number of full-time standard academic staff fell- down from 1,006 in 1996 to 963 in 2004. The proportion of staff who were female however increased from 11.7 per cent to 17.4 per cent. Gains were greater at higher levels, with the proportion of female professors doubling, from 4.3 per cent to 8.7 per cent over the eight years. In the category of ‘other senior staff’, which includes readers and senior lecturers, the proportion of women increased from 10.5 per cent to 16.1 per cent. Both grades of lecturer saw an increase in the proportion of women, from 14.6 per cent to 24.7 per cent of permanent lecturers and from 19.3 per cent to 22.2 per cent of fixed-term lecturers.

These departments also experienced a decline in the numbers of researchers, from 172 in 1996 to 129 in 2004. Women held increasing proportion of senior and permanent researcher jobs (by 21.1 per cent and 25.7 per cent respectively), whilst the proportion of female fixed-term researchers fell very slightly (by 2.7 per cent). The bar chart, below, illustrates the changes in the proportions of women in these academic positions over the eight years for this extended balanced panel.

The proportion of full-time academic jobs held by women has increased slightly from 19 per cent in 2002 to 20.5 per cent in 2004. This is not just an artefact of the responding samples. In the balanced panel too, women’s share of jobs has increased from 14 per cent to 17 per cent over the two years. However gains have not been uniform across all grades. Indeed in the balanced panel, women’s relative share of senior lectureships and fixed-term lectureships actually declined.

The proportion of female academics at the fixed-term lecturer grade, which usually forms a port of entry to an academic career, fell from 33.9 per cent to 26.5 per cent. While this appears to be a dramatic decline, the actual numbers involved are relatively small, and as these are staff on fixed-term contacts, churn from year to year might be expected.

New recruits to academic staff and promoted staff were both more likely to be female than staff already in post. But in the balanced panel, where outflows as well as inflows of staff by grade can be inferred, at both senior lecturer and fixed-term lecturer grades, the proportions of women among those leaving academic economics exceeded the proportions of women in post. Moreover, at key grades in the academic hierarchy, (professor and senior lecturer), women's relative frequency in the grade below was higher than in new staff. If the grade below is taken as an indicator of the expected gender proportions of recruitment into a grade, women continue by and large to be underrepresented in new staff. Similarly women's proportion of promotions to professor was lower than their relative frequency in the feeder grade of reader.

It was worrying that the 2002 survey had documented stasis or even decline in the proportion of jobs held by female academic economists, suggesting that the underlying trend of increasing representation of women and minorities found in every previous RES survey had been halted or reversed. The findings from 2004 suggest that this was temporary and, in general, the trend of increasing female and ethnic minority participation in academic economics has continued. Moreover as comparisons between 1996 and 2004 show, the blip in 2002 was not sufficiently adverse to reverse longer term gains.

However the 2004 survey has pointed up several developments that may well impact on gender and ethnic balance in the future as well as some that have wider implications. First, the trend of economics departments to be incorporated or repackaged within business schools has been consolidated. Reclassification may well have implications for hiring and promotion strategies, with knock-on effects on the representation of women and minorities. Second, while the latest survey of departments has moderated anxieties about the interruptions to gains by women and minorities registered in 2002, the picture it paints of academic economics is no cause for complacency. The gender balance in academic employment in economics remains out of line with the university sector as a whole and with the proportion of female students in economics. The gains made by women in the last two years have been small and in no way close these gaps. Moreover they have not been uniform. Indeed in the balanced panel, preferred here for tracking trends over time, some grades have seen a fall in women’s representation. The decrease in the proportion of women at the entry-level grade (fixed-term lecturer) and a key senior grade (senior lecturer) may not bode well for future progress, reducing women’s access to the higher levels of academic employment. The Women’s Committee of the Royal Economics Society remains committed to monitoring the situation and encouraging equality of opportunity.


Blackaby, David H., and Jeff Frank, ‘Ethnic and Other Minorities in UK Academic Economics’, Economic Journal , June 2000, F293-F311.

Booth, Alison L,. and Jonathan Burton, ‘The Position of Women in UK Academic Economics’, Economic Journal, June 2000, F312-F333.

Burton, Jonathan, with Amanda Rowlatt and Heather Joshi, ‘Royal Economic Society Survey on the Gender and Ethnic balance of academic economics 2000’, ISER Working Paper, 2002-4.

Burton, Jonathan with Heather Joshi, ‘Royal Economic Society Survey on the Gender and Ethnic balance of Academic Economics 2002’, RES report.

Mumford, Karen, ‘The Gender Balance of Academic Economists in the UK’, report to the Royal Economic Society Women’s Committee, June 1997.


1. The institutions were identified from CHUDE documentation of departments of economics, departments teaching economics in a business or management school, and research centres employing economists. There are major difficulties in covering economists working outside conventional economics or business departments. The failure to identify economists working in policy studies or inter-disciplinary settings in the surveys is of concern to the Royal Economics Society’s Women’s Committee.

2. These differences in response rates are statistically significant.

3. This difference in response rates is not statistically significant and has become less pronounced over the last four years.

4. For detail on these points see the full report available at

5. The findings in this section are based on the returns from the 2004 survey (n = 79) with some reference to the balanced panel of departments responding in both the 2002 and 2004 (n = 53).

6. Permanent full-time research posts are obviously very rare but the apparent absence of part-time fixed-term researchers seems puzzling.

7. This difference in size is statistically significant.

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