Changing perception of diversity
Understanding diversity is as challenging as understanding what limits its presence in the first place. After some quite shocking insights from research by Alice Wu, the profession of economists in the US has undertaken several actions. First, the AEA released a climate survey among its members to research the prevalence of inappropriate behaviors and identify what exactly members themselves define as inappropriate. AEA has also opened EconSpark, an internet forum to divert attention and user traffic and attention from EconJobMarketRumors, with the intention that unlike EJMR, EconSpark will provide a safe and encouraging environment, due to transparency. But irrespectively of these actions, the AEA 2019 meetings in Atlanta have proven to be extremely rich in research that analyzes the roots of discrimination and barriers to diversity. The papers on this particular research agenda complemented the commonly present macro, micro, theory, econometrics and the always pressing uncertainty about the fate of the US economy. The discussions encompassed not only direct empirical and experimental evidence on discrimination and diversity: during a few panels the top minds of economics discussed how to rid the profession of stimulating but also discouraging hostility during the seminars, extreme drive to competitiveness and other indirect mechanisms which drive women and minorities away from economics
Our presentation concerned the mechanisms behind gender board diversity in small and medium enterprises. It has been previously established that the stocklisted companies with women on supervisory (non-executive) boards tend to achieve greater diversity when nominating the members of the executive (management) boards. Our study shows that this mechanism works only for the stocklisted firms: the companies which are not under public scrutiny of the shareholders have much less women on supervisory boards and much more women on management boards, ceteris paribus.