Paper Talk: Gender and Referee Kindness

The topic of this post is a cool paper I ran across that seeked to answer the question: are female referees nicer? To males? Or to females? Or to neither?

Charity and Favoritism in the Field: Are Female Economists Nicer (To Each Other?)

I feel like my predictions for this paper were rooted heavily in the movie Mean Girls. But I digress…

It’s an interesting and relevant question, especially for a female like myself who would like to go to graduate school and do research. Happily, the system of matching authors and referees for the submission process yields extensive variation that is for our purposes random; it’s yet another fortuitous research design! Together with tons of data on author-referee matches (which must have been quite difficult to get, as these pairs are supposed to remain entirely anonymous, and the authors must have themselves been in the dataset) as well as data on the genders of these people and the acceptance/rejection of the paper, the ability to study female bias is clear.

The conclusion of the paper was that they are completely objective, like their male counterparts. Frankly, this is not the result I was expecting – I thought female referees would be nicer to male authors and meaner to female authors. Shame on me for not having better faith in my female economists!

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