Reforming Tenure is not nearly enough

Tyler nailed it yesterday, pointing out that “fixing” EJMR is not going to solve any of the real problems in academic economics. But I don’t think Tenure Reform is going to do it either. I know many of my friends won’t like this, but we need serious affirmative action at many levels of higher ed to fix the white maleness of academic economics.

I’ve been persuaded by recent papers in development (Melissa Dell on the Mita, lots of Nathan Nunn’s work among others) that the effects of history are very long lasting. And I believe the effects of how African Americans and women were (are?) treated in this country are with us still to this day.

If we are not satisfied with the pace of change as we now see it, we have to do something about it. It’s tough because it is kind of a chicken and egg problem. We need African American and women professors to inspire students and provide role models, but we don’t have them.

So affirmative action in grad school recruiting, in hiring, even in promotion / retention is needed if we are going to even semi-rapidly increase race and gender diversity in economics.

In parallel to this, k-12 education resources need to be better focussed on poor and minority students.

Econ does decently well on intellectual diversity (especially when compared to other social science disciplines), but terrible on race and gender diversity. It won’t change by villain-izing the bros at EJMR, nor by reforming tenure.

And of course not only is it right, but it is good for all of us to have everyone in society contributing to their potential.



5 thoughts on “Reforming Tenure is not nearly enough

  1. Pingback: Tuesday assorted links - Marginal REVOLUTION

  2. Fixing EJMR might not be enough, but its a start. We are putting together a document to organize folks interested. I hope if you are you can reach out to me. I’m a mod at r/badeconomics which has been identified as a counter example to EJMR.

  3. You are assuming that white males can not be role models for African Americans or women. Is it also true that women cannot be role models for men, nor African Americans for non-black people/

    • not an expert, but there’s a fair amount of research claiming that having profs that “look like” them helps students consider going into a field. I’ve mentored men, women, asians, hispanics etc. but what we are doing now IS NOT WORKING.

  4. It is weird how much we discuss economics in a vacuum… lots of other disciplines have hit 50%+ women. What did they do in e.g. biology and psychology to get there? I don’t think it was reforming tenure or above-normal levels of affirmative action but that seems like the place to look.

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