Also this week: a rare retraction from an ecology journal, eclipse humor, and more.
Lots of discussion on the intertubes this week about misogyny in economics. If you weren’t aware, economics has a cesspool of a website called Econ Job Market Rumors (aside: political science has a similar site; I’m unaware of equivalents in other fields). EJMR (which I refuse to link to; you can google it if your day is going too well and you want to ruin it) is an anonymous forum for discussion of economics, particularly the academic job market (imagine the “venting” page of ecoevojobs.net combined with bad PubPeer threads and you won’t be far off). Well, that plus topics like the appearance of women economists, attacks on women economists who purportedly slept their way into faculty positions, and worse (yes, it gets worse). I wish I could report that EJMR was obscure, but it gets 25,000+ pageviews/month. Anyway, all this was widely known in economics. But this week economics undergrad Alice Wu put numbers on it (summary from Michigan economist Justin Wolfers in the NYTimes here). She text-mined over a million EJMR discussion threads looking for the words most associated with male and female pronouns. The top words associated with discussions of women, in order: hotter, lesbian, bb (“baby”), sexism, tits, and I’m going to stop typing that list because if I keep going I’ll need to vomit and I’m not even the target of any of this crap. You’ll be simultaneously appalled and unsurprised to learn that the top two words associated with discussion of men are “homosexual” and “homo”. And that’s without even getting into the racism, which the linked paper didn’t try to quantify. Anyway, Alice Wu’s preprint prompted a ton of online discussion. Lots of people sharing their own experiences of sexism in economics, and with EJMR specifically (e.g.). Here are some other reactions I thought were particularly good:
- Here’s economist Noah Smith on why economics seems to have more than the usual quotient of sexist and racist assholes, though they’re only a minority of the field. Here’s Leah Boustan’s related hypothesis. Though of course, what matters is their effects on others, not exactly what proportion of the field they comprise.
- Here’s economist Shelly Lundberg calling for EJMR users, and senior economists, to demand that EJMR clean up its act. (Aside: calls for EJMR to clean up its act aren’t mutually exclusive with warning people about the site. I saw tweets from several economics profs who warn their students away from EJMR.) There are also many calls and nascent plans in the works to develop a website that will outcompete EJMR for pageviews by providing job market information, professional advice, and technical discussion without the heavy dose of sexism and racism. The comments along these lines made me think back to Meghan’s old post about women in ecology and Ecolog-L discussions, and my related post.
- More broadly, here’s senior economist Jeffrey Brown on what economists can do to make the entire field more inclusive and equitable for women. This strikes me as more important and more likely to succeed than trying to change EJMR, though the two aren’t mutually exclusive of course. Relatedly, here’s economist Josh Gans on why EJMR should be seen as a particularly-bad symptom of broader issues in economics, not as yet another example of a terrible anonymous online forum that’s terrible for reasons having nothing to do with economics specifically.
- Lots of economists publicly denouncing EJMR and announcing their intention to act as allies and work to change the culture of the field, which was heartening to see (e.g.and e.g.).
Ambika Kamath on problematic humor in academic talks.
PhD comics nails the eclipse. 🙂
And finally, it wasn’t a full eclipse in Calgary, so our birds didn’t prepare a blood cauldron. 🙂
ASLO (the Association for the Sciences of Limnology & Oceanography), which publishes Limnology & Oceanography (a.k.a. L&O) emailed the society membership this week to announce that they were retracting a paper. I can’t find the email online anywhere, though they did RT this from the ASLO twitter account:
I found it interesting that they emailed the membership about it — I hadn’t heard of that happening before (even for a society-run journal).
I found this quite interesting:
BMC Ecology is now offering two stage peer review! (ht: Chris Chambers) I’ve wished for this in the past. It will be really interesting to see how this ends up working out!
Jeremy- I’d have to agree that racism in all its forms is an ugliness that should be rejected by all. I was not aware of the econ connection to racism and sexism, but it does not surprise me. I suspect though that maybe they are just a bit more vocal about it than other disciplines? In other words, my working hypothesis would be there are more or less an equal distribution of sexist and racist assholes across the academic spectrum. Although I do not know how one would go about testing that hypothesis.
However an above-the-fold story in today’s NYT edition reports that as a percentage, Hispanic and black enrollments have steadily DECLINED at the top universities in the US DURING the 35 years of Affirmative Action. There are likely factors beyond racism that have contributed to the decline, but if we see this trend evidencing itself during a time when a federal law was in place to reverse it, then racism is likely a contributing factor. Because this trend is evident across most if not all top US universities, then we would have to expect racism is having an effect across all academic disciplines. Thus, there would have to be a more or less equal distribution of sexist and racist assholes across academia.