Research and teaching
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Marc Lerchenmueller and Olav Sorenson

We examined the extent to which and why early career transitions have led to women being underrepresented among faculty in the life sciences. We followed the careers of 6,336 scientists from the post-doctoral fellowship stage to becoming a principal investigator (PI) – a critical transition in the academic life sciences. Using a unique dataset that connects individuals’ National Institutes of Health funding histories to their publication records, we found that a large portion of the overall gender gap in the life sciences emerges from this transition. Women transition to being a PI at a 20% lower rate than men. Differences in “productivity” (publication records) can explain about 60% of this lower rate. The remaining differential in the rates appears to stem from gender differences in the returns to similar publication records, with women systematically receiving less credit for highly-cited research.

Olav Sorenson and Michael S. Dahl

We examine the extent to which the gender wage gap stems from dual-earner couples jointly choosing where to live. If couples locate in places better suited for the man’s employment than for the woman’s, the resulting mismatch of women to employers will de- press women’s wages. Examining data from Denmark, our analyses indicate (i) that Danish couples chose locations with higher expected wages for the man than for the woman, (ii) that the better matching of men in couples to local employers could account for up to 36% of the gender wage gap, and (iii) that the greatest asymmetry in the apparent importance of the man’s versus the woman’s potential earnings occurred among couples with pre-school age children and where the male partner had accounted for a larger share of household income before the potential move.

American Sociological Review,81 (2016): 900-920

Podcast on the paper (interviewed by Cristobal Young)