In a study of eight leading introductory economics textbooks, Betty Stevenson and Hanna Zlotnick of the University of Michigan found a gender mix that favors men even more than reality does. The duo tallied 2,858 people—economists, business leaders, policy makers, celebrities, and fictional characters—across the eight books, categorizing the gender, role, and setting of each. They found that just 18% of people in the textbooks were female, far lower than the 57% of college students who are, and still lower than the share of women (51%) in the US.
“When I go to seminars in other disciplines, the tenor of the seminars tends to be a lot less about scoring points and…nail[ing] the speaker to the blackboard,” she said in an interview published this month on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. In economics, she says, presenting your latest findings can feel more like a testimony in front of a firing squad than a collaborative space where other experts help you sharpen your research. One of the problems with this kind of culture, Case believes, is “women oftentimes don’t respond as well to that as men do.”