No. 1438 - Women in economics: the role of gendered references at entry in the profession

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by Audinga Baltrunaite, Alessandra Casarico and Lucia RizzicaFebruary 2024

We study the presence and the extent of gender differences in reference letters for graduate students in economics and finance, and how they relate to early labor market outcomes. To these ends, we built a novel rich dataset containing reference letters and CVs of about 8,000 PhD graduates from around the world who applied for an academic position in Italy.

Our text-analysis results reveal that men are described more often as brilliant and women as hardworking and diligent. We show that the former (latter) description relates positively (negatively) with various subsequent career outcomes, even when accounting for differences across candidates in observable characteristics. We provide evidence that the observed differences in the way candidates are described are driven by implicit gender stereotypes.