Martha Bailey, Associate Professor of Economics, will become the next Director of the CeMENT Mentoring Workshop for Faculty in Doctoral Programs as part of the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP). These mentoring workshops are designed to improve the chances of professional success for female assistant professors in economics departments.

According to CSWEP’s 2014 annual report, women accounted for 30 percent of assistant professors in economics, 23.5 percent of associate professors, and less than 12.1 percent of full professors. CeMENT is actively working to close the gender differential in economics.

CeMENT seeks to raise the quality of research done by mentees through focused feedback sessions. It also seeks to facilitate the development of professional connections, both between mentees and senior faculty, and among female professional economists. Mentoring nearly 300 junior faculty to date, CeMENT boasts substantial success in improving outcomes.  In a randomized control trial,[1] the first workshop participants were compared to those who did not participate five years down the road. On average, the participants gained 0.4 additional NSF or NIH grants and 3 additional publications. They were also 25 percentage points more likely to have a top-tier publication, ultimately translating into better chances of tenure and promotion.

After serving as both a mentee and a mentor, Bailey described the workshop as “deeply empowering” and enthusiastically accepted the program’s leadership. As a mentee, Bailey found the research tips and professional advice important in her own career development. She also enjoyed the camaraderie.  “During the workshop, the women in the room discovered we have had very similar experiences. The aha-moment was that some of these experiences reflected systemic sexism. The more we talked, the more we learned successful strategies for navigating this.”

The barriers in economics today are not as explicit as 50 years ago, when women were told they couldn’t do the job or didn’t deserve an academic appointment because they had children. Yet they persist and reflect a multitude of factors, including subjective bias in the ways we listen to women as well as how we evaluate their contributions in academic teams.

In addition to contributing to the professional development of female economists, Bailey hopes to learn useful strategies for increasing diversity at the University of Michigan’s Department of Economics, where she is the only woman in its history internally promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.


[1] Currie et al, “Can Mentoring Help Female Assistant Professors? Interim Results from a Randomized Trial,” American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 100 (May 2010): 348-352.