Getting a Shot

Kevin Lewis

April 20, 2023

Voicing Disagreement in Science: Missing Women
David Klinowski
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming 


This paper examines the authorship of post-publication criticisms in the scientific literature, with a focus on gender differences. Bibliometrics from journals in the natural and social sciences show that comments that criticize or correct a published study are 20-40% less likely than regular papers to have a female author. In preprints in the life sciences, prior to peer review, women are missing by 20-40% in failed replications compared to regular papers, but are not missing in successful replications. In an experiment, I then find large gender differences in willingness to point out and penalize a mistake in someone's work.

"Model minorities" in the classroom? Positive evaluation bias towards Asian students and its consequences
Ying Shi & Maria Zhu
Journal of Public Economics, April 2023 


The fast-growing demographic group of Asian Americans is often perceived as a “model minority.” This paper establishes empirical evidence of this stereotype in the context of education and then analyzes its consequences. We show that teachers rate Asian students’ academic skills more favorably than observationally similar White students in the same class, even after accounting for test performance and behavior. This contrasts with teachers’ lower likelihood of favoring Black and Hispanic students. Notably, teachers respond to the presence of any Asian student in the classroom by widening Black-White and Hispanic-White assessment gaps. This suggests that the “model minority” stereotype can negatively impact other minority groups despite its ostensibly positive connotation.

Women's Colleges and Economics Major Choice: Evidence from Wellesley College Applicants
Kristin Butcher, Patrick McEwan & Akila Weerapana
NBER Working Paper, April 2023 


Many observers argue that diversity in Economics and STEM fields is critical, not simply because of egalitarian goals, but because who is in a field may shape what is studied by it. If increasing the rate of majoring in mathematically-intensive fields among women is a worthy goal, then understanding whether women’s colleges causally affect that choice is important. Among all admitted applicants to Wellesley College, enrollees are 7.2 percentage points (94%) more likely to receive an Economics degree than non-enrollees (a plausible lower bound given negative selection into enrollment on math skills and major preferences). Overall, 3.2 percentage points -- or 44% of the difference between enrollees and non-enrollees -- is explained by college exposure to female instructors and students, consistent with a wider role for women’s colleges in increasing female participation in Economics.

Racial Differences in Student Access to High-Quality Teachers
Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd & Calen Clifton
Education Finance and Policy, forthcoming 


Access to high-quality teachers in K-12 schools differs systematically by racial group. This policy brief reviews the academic research documenting these differences and the labor market forces and segregation patterns that solidify them. It also presents new analysis of differential exposure in North Carolina of White, Black, and Hispanic students to teachers with different quality-related credentials across five grade-subject combinations. White students are most often in classrooms taught by teachers with strong credentials and least often by those with weak credentials, not only across the state as a whole, but also within most of the state's counties, especially those whose schools are most segregated by race. To address such disparities, decision-makers at all three levels -- state, district, and school -- have various policy options to consider, with each level having an important role to play.

The Gender Disclosure Gap: Salary History Bans Unravel When Men Volunteer their Income
Bo Cowgill, Amanda Agan & Laura Gee
Columbia University Working Paper, March 2023 


New laws aim to reduce historical inequalities by limiting the information employers can seek. Although employers are forbidden from seeking certain information, workers are free to disclose voluntarily. We study these bans through the lens of disclosure theory. A large survey of the US workforce shows that men are more likely to disclose their salaries unprompted, particularly when they believe that other candidates are volunteering. Women report higher psychological costs of disclosing, and are more likely to resist unraveling. A simple theoretical model shows the importance of the psychological costs of disclosing, and of the coarseness of employer beliefs about group differences. Our survey finds evidence of these mechanisms, as well as disclosure patterns consistent with unraveling in the U.S. job market. A large percentage of workers (28%) volunteer salary history, even when a ban prevents employers from asking. An additional 47% will disclose if enough rival job candidates disclose. Between November 2019 and May 2021, unprompted volunteering of salaries increased by about 6-8 percentage points. Consistent with disclosure theory, workers act as if silence is a negative signal.

What Can Historically Black Colleges and Universities Teach about Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Black Students?
Gregory Price & Angelino Viceisza
NBER Working Paper, April 2023 


Historically Black colleges and universities are institutions that were established prior to 1964 with the principal mission of educating Black Americans. In this essay, we focus on two main issues. We start by examining how Black College students perform across HBCUs and non-HBCUs by looking at a relatively broad range of outcomes, including college and graduate school completion, job satisfaction, social mobility, civic engagement, and health. HBCUs punch significantly above their weight, especially considering their significant lack of resources. We then turn to the potential causes of these differences and provide a glimpse into the “secret sauce” of HBCUs. We conclude with potential implications for HBCU and non-HBCU policy.

Affirmative action and its race-neutral alternatives
Zachary Bleemer
Journal of Public Economics, April 2023 


As affirmative action loses political feasibility, many universities have implemented race-neutral alternatives like top percent policies and holistic review to increase enrollment among disadvantaged students. I study these policies’ application, admission, and enrollment effects using University of California administrative data. UC’s affirmative action and top percent policies increased underrepresented minority (URM) enrollment by over 20 percent and less than 4 percent, respectively. Holistic review increases implementing campuses’ URM enrollment by about 7 percent. Top percent policies and holistic review have negligible effects on lower-income enrollment, while race-based affirmative action modestly increased enrollment among very low-income students. These findings highlight that the most common race-neutral alternatives to affirmative action increase Black and Hispanic enrollment far less than affirmative action itself and reveal that none of these policies substantially affect universities’ socioeconomic composition.

Sexual Violence against Women in STEM: A Test of Backlash Theory Among Undergraduate Women
Dennis Reidy et al.
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, forthcoming 


It has been argued that increasing the number of women in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields could mitigate violence against women by advancing gender equality. However, some research points to a “backlash” effect wherein gains in gender equality are associated with heighted sexual violence (SV) against women. In this study, we compare SV against undergraduate women majoring in STEM disciplines to those majoring in non-STEM disciplines. Data were collected between July and October of 2020 from undergraduate women (N = 318) at five institutions of higher education in the United States. Sampling was stratified by STEM versus non-STEM majors and male-dominated versus gender-balanced majors. SV was measured using the revised Sexual Experiences Survey. Results indicated that women majoring in STEM disciplines that are gender balanced reported more SV victimization in the form of sexual coercion, attempted sexual coercion, attempted rape, and rape compared to their peers in both gender-balanced and male-dominated non-STEM and male-dominated STEM majors. These associations held even after controlling for age, race/ethnicity, victimization prior to college, sexual orientation, college binge drinking, and hard drug use during college. These data suggest that the risk of repeated SV victimization within STEM populations may be a threat to sustained gender parity in these fields and ultimately to gender equality and equity. Gender balance in STEM should not be furthered without addressing the potential use of SV as a potential means of social control over women.

Racial Inequality in Work Environments
Letian Zhang
American Sociological Review, April 2023, Pages 252–283 


This article explores racial stratification in work environments. Inequality scholars have long identified racial disparities in wage and occupational attainment, but workers’ careers and well-being are also shaped by elements of their work environment, including firm culture, managerial style, and work-life balance. I theorize two processes that could lead to racial inequality in firms’ work environments: (1) employee sorting due to exclusionary practices, and (2) spillover from racial differences in occupation and geographic location. To test this, I gathered a unique firm-level dataset composed of one million employee reviews, covering most large and medium-sized firms in the United States. I show that firms with more Black employees score lower for managerial quality, firm culture, and work-life balance, and firms with more Asian employees score higher on these dimensions. However, Asian employees’ advantage disappears when controlling for occupation, industry, and geography, whereas Black employees’ disadvantage persists, suggesting that the process of firm-level employee sorting is at work. Consistent with this, I find that Black employees’ disadvantage is strongest in areas with more conservative racial attitudes and more prevalent workplace racial discrimination. I then replicated the main findings using two entirely different data sources. Together, these results underscore racial inequality in work environments, an overlooked but important dimension of workplace inequality.

Understanding disproportionate female completion rates at police academies
David Alexander Bowers, Olga Semukhina & Kenneth Mike Reynolds
Police Practice and Research, forthcoming 


This paper investigates gender differences in graduation rates for police trainees in the nationwide sample of police academies collected in 2018 by the Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies. The study explores which characteristics of the police academies can explain the lower levels of graduation for female trainees when compared to their male counterparts. The findings suggest that the stress environment, the gender ratio of trainees, the instructors’ minimum education, the affiliation of the police academy with an academic institution, and the length of the program play an important role in explaining lower graduation rates for female trainees. When scrutinizing the specific reasons for failure, female trainees are more likely to fail due to challenges encountered in firearms training, driving lessons, and physical fitness instruction, but not due to overall academic performance. The female trainees are also twice as likely to voluntarily admit to failure and withdraw as their male counterparts.

Attractive or Aggressive? A Face Recognition and Machine Learning Approach for Estimating Returns to Visual Appearance
Guodong Guo et al.
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming 


This paper provides a methodological contribution by illustrating the use of computer vision and machine learning methods to identify facial characteristics for the study of facial characteristics in economics. We analyze facial appearance premia for head football coaches at big-time college sports programs to illustrate this methodology. Specifically, we estimate facial attractiveness and aggressiveness premia using quantitative measures of these characteristics from a neural network approach applied to observable facial features. Parametric regression results show evidence of a salary discount for attractive employees along with evidence of an aggressiveness premium. Nonparametric gradient results provide similar qualitative implications.

Pathways to Legitimacy for Black and White Authorities: Impressions of Competence and Warmth
Kate Hawks et al.
Social Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming


Legitimacy is crucial for the effectiveness of leaders in the workplace. We investigate pathways by which authorities in the workplace gain legitimacy and how they differ by authority race. In addition to leaders’ behaviors, subordinates’ impressions of leaders’ competence and warmth, stemming from those behaviors, impact their views of leader legitimacy. We further assess how the role of mediating impressions depends on the race of the authority enacting the behaviors. In an experimental vignette study, we manipulate the authority’s actions (use of fair procedures and power benevolently) and race (Black/white) and measure perceived competence, warmth, and legitimacy. Results indicate that the effects of leader behaviors on legitimacy operate through impressions of competence and warmth. Moreover, authority race alters this pathway; behaviors operate through competence impressions for white managers and through warmth impressions for Black managers. Our study illuminates how leaders gain legitimacy at work and how this process is racialized.

Invisible hurdles: Gender and institutional differences in the evaluation of economics papers
Fulya Ersoy & Jennifer Pate
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming 


How might the visibility of an author's name and/or institutional affiliation allow bias to enter the evaluation of economics papers? We ask highly qualified journal editors to review abstracts of solo-authored papers which differ along the dimensions of gender and institution of the author. We exogenously vary whether editors observe the name and/or institution of the author. We identify positive name visibility effects for female economists and positive institution visibility effects for economists at the top institutions. Our results suggest that male economists at top institutions benefit the most from non-blind evaluations, followed by female economists (regardless of their institution).


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