I went to a great conference on market adaptation to climate change this week at Stanford, hosted by PERC. It's really fun to be in a small-group setting where each paper can be discussed in detail.
But one thing stood out immediately upon entering the room. Of the seventeen presenters and discussants, only one was female. (If you count myself and a fellow grad student, that brings the total up to three women in the room - out of around 25 people.) It's well known that economics has a leaky pipeline problem - every step of the way, from undergraduate economics majors to PhD students to assistant, associate, and finally full professors, the academic economics profession loses women. I can't pin my finger on any one reason - but it's clear that this is a big problem. As a PhD student, the majority of what I can do to address the issue, I think, is to be as successful a researcher as possible - but I also try to be a good mentor to my younger female colleagues, and to provide useful comments when the department is searching for new hires.
Berkeley's own Martha Olney took a leaf out of the engineers' book today and started up the #ILookLikeAnEconomist hashtag on Twitter, and it's cool to see people popping up with their own tagged posts. If you're a female economist who uses Twitter, come join in!
If you're in a position to support female economists, at any stage of the process, I urge you to do so. I personally am lucky to work for and with several amazing female faculty members, as well as a super smart crew of women grad students - and that's only the tip of the iceberg of the many great, badass, and inspirational female economists out there. I'm not saying anyone should get a pass because they're a woman - just that if we don't do something as a profession about our large gender imbalance, we'll be missing out on interesting and important research. Our field will be broader, and more importantly better, when conferences and seminar rooms have female-to-male ratios that look closer to 50:50 than they do to 6:50.