Arnold Kling  

So Larry Summers was Right?

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Hail the Victorious Dead... Cato Unbound Update...

Donna K. Ginther and Shulamit Kahn write,


Children create a marked divergence between men and women. For science as a whole, the presence of a pre-kindergarten aged child lowers women’s likelihood of having a tenure track job by 8.1 percent. The presence of a grade school child has no effect. In contrast, for men, pre-kindergarten children have no effect on their likelihood of having a tenure track job while each child above six years old increases a man’s probability of getting a tenure track job by 2.9 percent.

Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the pointer. He mentions his respect for Kahn, who I have not seen in over 25 years--she and I entered MIT graduate school the same year. I remember after several us got together at the apartment that Bob McDonald and I shared, Shu and I had a long talk about how depressed we were.

This reminds me of a couple of things. One is that first-year students had to work together--the problem sets were too hard to tackle for an individual. Also, at one point or another, everyone got depressed and felt like quitting. Over the years, I don't think that the mathematical hazing ritual known as economics grad school has changed all that much.



COMMENTS (7 to date)
conchis writes:

It's worth remembering that this is conditional on getting a PhD, and that according to the graph in the paper, only 30% of science PhDs are women (much higher in life sciences, much lower in engineering). This is up from 10% in 1974, so more of the existing difference in tenure patterns will be explained by this than the 30% would suggest. Bottom line: if there's something else going in determining the number of female PhDs, then Summers may still turn out to be wrong, but it doesn't appear to be discrimination in hiring driving things.

Allen Jacobs writes:

I was in that same group first year and I remember Bob McDonald and I concluding we were going to flunk out, and so going in to talk to Robert Hall, our advisor, and saying that we couldn't survive. Hall pulled out my application information and said you are plenty smart enough --- everyone in this group has an IQ over 150 -- this is just part of the process you have to suffer through -- there will be too much to master and learn for the rest of your life -- as an undergrad you were used to getting every idea in every class because that's how the material was parsed out. He just laughed and said get back to work. Of course, he was right about that.

John Thacker writes:

One is that first-year students had to work together--the problem sets were too hard to tackle for an individual. Also, at one point or another, everyone got depressed and felt like quitting. Over the years, I don't think that the mathematical hazing ritual known as economics grad school has changed all that much.

Well, that certainly defniitely describes the mathematics hazing ritual known as mathematics grad school still, at least at Cornell.

Bill Conerly writes:

Thanks for your comments about depression in grad school. I have a couple of friends who thought grad school was great, so I figured I was out in left field. For me, grad school was the only miserable time of an otherwise happy life.

radek writes:

I don't think that the mathematical hazing ritual known as economics grad school has changed all that much.

It hasn't. But it serves its purpose. There's some economics of hazing that is relevant here - arbitrary costs imposed on the would be initiates. Not only are they a sorting mechanism separating the committed from the dabblers but they also foster a kind of "in the trenches" mentality which makes cooperation (an unnatural state of affairs but for some tasks essential) possible. How do you find people to coauthor papers with? Someone who you know's been through the fire with you or at least seen similar battles.

Bill writes:

Now I understand why so many physics grad students I've known made fun of econ majors: they were many of the weak students in their math classes.

Working together on problem sets because they were too hard--how very sad. Did you cheat by working together on tests too?

(BTW, I really admire much of Dr. Kling's writings, but his anti-math bias is discreditable.)

Roy Bland writes:

Drat and blast. Here I am, an economics post-graduate student, just back from working on some tough maths problems with my fellow students, only to discover that I'm "very sad" for doing so.

I'm going down to the bottom of the garden to eat worms

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