A Caution about Sent and van Staveren’s “Feminist Review…”

While the conclusions it comes to are broadly correct, the article “A Feminist Review of Behavioral Economic Research on Gender Differences” by Sent and van Staveren should not be used as a model for methodology.

Sent and van Staveren FEIn their article “A Feminist Review of Behavioral Economic Research on Gender Differences,” published in the April 2019 issue of Feminist Economics, Esther-Mirjam Sent and Irene van Staveren state that their work was inspired by my own work. In a series of articles (here, here, and here) and a book, I had performed meta-analyses of behavioral economics work concerning gender and risk-taking. Sent and van Staveren are to be commended for taking on the ambitious project of extending the focus to include investigations into not only risk, but also overconfidence, altruism, and trust. They also come to conclusions that are, based on my own investigation, broadly correct: “[F]ew studies report statistically significant as well as sizeable differences,” “large intra-gender differences (differences among men and differences among women) exist,” and “[m]any studies have not sufficiently taken account of various social, cultural, and ideological drivers.”  I feel obligated, however, to point out that there are a number of methodological problems in their article. While the article is certainly notable, considerable caution should be exercised about taking its methods as a model for future work. Continue reading “A Caution about Sent and van Staveren’s “Feminist Review…””

Yes, Economics Has a Problem with Women

In the news recently we’ve heard about a study of sexist terms used to refer to women economists. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Yes, economics has a problem with women. In the news recently we’ve heard about the study of the Economics Job Market Rumors (EJMR) on-line forum. Student researcher Alice H. Wu found that posts about women were far more likely to contain words about their personal and physical issues (including “hot,” “lesbian,” “cute,” and “raped” ) than posts about men, which tended to focus more on academic and professional topics. As a woman who has been in the profession for over three decades, however, this is hardly news.

Dismissive treat of women, and of issues that impact women more than men, comes not only from the sorts of immature cowards who vent anonymously on EJMR, but even from men who probably don’t think of themselves as sexist. Continue reading “Yes, Economics Has a Problem with Women”

Index of Similarity (IS): A Tool for Breaking Down Stereotypes

The social science literature is full of claims about the differences between men and women, blacks and whites, rich and poor, and so on. But how can we also examine similarities? This post offers a method.

Men vs. women. Blacks vs. whites. Rich vs. poor. Muslim vs. Christian. We hear a lot, in the social sciences and in the popular media, about how different various groups of people are in their preferences, traits, or behaviors. The finding of a “difference” based on empirical research is considered interesting and publishable! But it also, alas, often leads to much misunderstanding, and even invidious stereotyping.

This is because differences get a lot more attention than similarities. Because similarities are rarely reported on, we have a tendency to slide into thinking that differences are much larger than they actually are. It’s an easy slide from categorizing people under some labels—for example, drawing on people’s self-identification as “a woman,” “a man,” “white,” or “a person of color”—to thinking that traits and behaviors divide easily into the same categories. Continue reading “Index of Similarity (IS): A Tool for Breaking Down Stereotypes”

Beyond “Small is Beautiful”: Buddhism and the Economics of Climate Change

Based on a talk given at Harvard Divinity School, sponsored by the Religions and the Practice of Peace Initiative, on Feb. 18, 2016.

Maitreya in dry grass

MANY BUDDHISTS—as well as many non-Buddhists!—have raised   concern and alarm about the climate crisis and other crises facing our society and our world.  Clearly, we need to take urgent action.  As Buddhists, we have a pressing moral obligation to do what we can to relieve the suffering of all beings on the planet, both now and in the future. Our hearts yearn to make things better.

And clearly much of the climate change disaster is caused by economic activity. If you graph carbon dioxide emissions and industrial output over a long period of time, the two graphs look pretty much identical. The development of large scale, fossil-fuel burning industries was accompanied, in Western societies, by the rise of large corporations, global markets, and a rising emphasis on consumption as a source of well-being. Great wealth has been created, but this wealth has been very unequally distributed, and has often come at the cost of environmental and social sustainability.

It’s abundantly clear that we can’t go on with “business as usual.” People and other sentient beings are already feeling the disruptive effects of a set of historical and social developments that, as a whole, have taken far too little account of the effects of our production and consumption on the rest of nature. We urgently need to change how our economies work.

But how? Continue reading “Beyond “Small is Beautiful”: Buddhism and the Economics of Climate Change”

Husbandry: a feminist reclamation of men’s responsibility to care

To stop the economy’s advance towards greed and destruction, we need new metaphors and images that inspire a radically different alternative.

Millet The Angelus
Post-card rendering of The Angelus by Jean François Millet. Credit: Bewareofthe rug.blogspot.com. Some rights reserved.

 

What do you see in your mind’s eye when you hear the word ‘care’? If you search for images on Google you’ll get lots of pictures of white mothers snuggling with their babies. You’ll also see photos of a female caregiver’s hands intertwined with those of an elderly person, and images that show two hands holding a young plant that symbolizes Earth.

If you Google ‘economics’ instead, you’ll get lots of pictures of piles of cash, or representations of math and data. Continue reading “Husbandry: a feminist reclamation of men’s responsibility to care”

Self-Interest and Other-Interest

We get to choose between being self-interested, on the one hand, or putting the needs of others first, on the other, right? Or maybe not.

sharing and self interest

I grew up, as a Lutheran preacher’s kid, hearing a lot of negative things about self-interest, selfishness, and self-centeredness. And I heard a lot of positive things about putting others ahead of oneself, altruism, and even self-sacrifice. When I got older and went to college, I was exposed to a different view. Continue reading “Self-Interest and Other-Interest”

Feminine and Strong

“Muliebrity”: An important word to add to your vocabulary.

old-woman-yoga
Source: The Daily Mail

Muliebrity. I bet that’s a word you don’t know.

Our minds like to put things in easy categories, and gender is, for most of us, a very handy way of defining these categories. We tend to perceive “strong” as going in the “masculine” pile. A word like “soft,” on the other hand, goes in the “feminine” one. Continue reading “Feminine and Strong”