Leading Economists Comment on the AEA’s Draft Code of Professional Conduct

(On January 17, 2018, Peter L. Rousseau, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Economic Association asked AEA member for comments on the code of professional conduct as drafted by an AEA Ad Hoc Committee. The draft Code of Professional Conduct is available here:
https://www.aeaweb.org/resources/member-docs/draft-code-of-conduct 

The ad hoc committee’s interim report is available here: https://www.aeaweb.org/resources/member-docs/code-of-conduct-interim-report

The comment period closed on March 15; 211 comments were received)

Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Michael Reich, University of California Berkeley, and Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research offered the following comment:
The Draft Code of Professional Conduct is seriously incomplete. It offers no method for the AEA to update the code or ensure that it is being followed. Nor does it make any provision to have allegations of noncompliance investigated and resolved by appropriate enforcement actions. To say that “the AEA strives to promote these principles through its activities” is a lovely statement of intent, but a thorough review of AEA activities is called for to assess whether the AEA is in fact creating an environment for “the perfect freedom of economic expression.” And then the review must be followed up with specific actions.

We note that the Interim Report of the Ad Hoc Committee to Consider a Code of Professional Conduct notes the many problems in the profession that were reported to them and suggests a number of steps that could be taken to ensure that the profession and the AEA do in fact work to improve the climate in the profession.

We suggest the AEA accept the additional proposals contained in the report and establish a standing committee on the Code of Conduct and task it with:  1) assessing how well the AEA and the profession generally are living up to the code of conduct, 2) monitoring and encouraging progress, and 3) making annual reports, containing recommendations for further action when needed, to the AEA and the membership for how further improvements can be made.  These annual reports should be widely shared with department chairs and deans, large employers of economists, and relevant public agencies. Finally, the committee should be charged with 4) investigating complaints of violations of the Code of Ethics, sanctioning violators, and otherwise enforcing the code of conduct throughout the profession.

While the Ad Hoc Committee explained its choice of a parsimonious code, it also noted a more complete code would require more time, a committee devoted to the effort, and resources to solicit feedback from the members. We suggest that the committee be provided with an adequate budget and staffing to carry out a comprehensive, ongoing effort to expand the code of ethics to deal with issues such as harassment, particularly harassment that occurs at AEA sponsored events, and to reform the culture of discourse and hostile treatment of diverse ideas and diverse people within the field.

Neither the draft code of conduct nor the Interim Report notes the importance of creating an environment where diverse ideas as well as diverse economists are welcomed. For example, in discussing the diversity of the Executive Committee and Officers, the Interim Report suggests that the range of departments, colleges, and careers be considered as dimensions of diversity.  Diversity of schools of thought within economics is also important and should be included and indeed welcomed. For another example, when discussing best practices for addressing bias, the interim report fails to mention bias against economic ideas that are outside the mainstream.  Finally, in addition to considering and spreading best practices for avoiding bias, the committee should be charged with reviewing and assessing best practices for enforcement methods among those used by other professional associations.

At the same time, Mr. Rousseau announced that the AEA decided to create a website/message board designed to provide additional information and transparency to the job market for new PhDs. This is planned to be operational in time for the 2018-19 job market cycle.

These action was taken by the AEA in response to a petition signed by more than 1100 economists (initiated by Michael Reich and Heidi Hartmann) asking the AEA to produce job market information that would surpass what is currently offered by the EJMR (Economic Job Market Rumors), which powerful research by Alice Wu shows is misogynistic as well as racist in the language used to describe job market candidates.

For more on the EJMR controversy and the overwhelming response that also led to the draft code of conduct, please check out the Bloomberg Benchmark episode on the topic that interviews IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann.

#GivingTuesday: Support Trusted Research on Women in 2017

#GivingTuesday: Support Trusted Research on Women in 2017

By Allison Lewis, IWPR Development Coordinator

Tuesday, November 28, is #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to recognizing the amazing work nonprofits do through your generosity. With dedicated support from our donors and followers, IWPR has been able to release more than 100 reports, fact sheets, and briefing papers so far this year. Our experts and research findings have been cited more than 2,000 times in local, state, and national media.

As information speeds through news cycles at a dizzying pace, you turn to the sources that have consistently produced reliable content over the years. It is because of your continued support that IWPR has been able to produce needed research and shape policy conversations in a year when facts and credible analysis are more important than ever.

In the recent wave of headlines on sexual harassment, IWPR’s experts and research have informed coverage of this issue from many angles: what Hollywood can learn from Wall Street, the connection between campus sexual assault and workplace sexual harassment, and how the pay gap and sexual harassment are two sides of the same coin.

Even on topics that may otherwise go overlooked during busy news cycles, such as the number of single mothers in college, IWPR’s research calls attention to important trends. While the number of single mothers in college has doubled over a decade, the availability of on-campus child care—a key support that can help student parents complete their degrees—has declined. In May, the Trump Administration released their budget proposal, which eliminated funding for CCAMPIS, the only federal program that helps low-income student parents access child care. IWPR experts and partners raised awareness about the critical importance of the CCAMPIS program in The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and Marketplace radio. In response to an in-depth look at the impact of the program, a White House official told Refinery29 in September, “We are working on ways to preserve the program.”

IWPR’s Student Parent Success Initiative highlighted another trend in September: single mothers are three times more likely to enroll in for-profit colleges than their peers without children. MarketWatch, Slate, and the popular podcast, “Death, Sex & Money,” featured the troubling rise of single mothers at for-profits and the recent efforts of the Department of Education to roll back regulations on for-profit colleges.

While #GivingTuesday is a day focused on giving financial support, we know not everyone is able to give in that way. You can support IWPR not only by donating to one of our general or program support funds, but by donating your time and enthusiasm for IWPR and the work that we do.

You can:

  • Make a one-time donation or set up a recurring donation to IWPR by visiting our donation page. (Need inspiration? Any gift helps, but consider donating $21 to recognize the 21 years IWPR has released state-level data on the Status of Women in the States or $30 in honor of IWPR’s upcoming 30th)
  • Create a fundraiser on Facebook for IWPR. Facebook will match $1 million in donations to U.S. nonprofits—up to $50,000 per nonprofit and $1,000 per fundraiser or donate button—and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will also kick in $1 million.
  • Post your own #Unselfie on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, letting your friends and followers know why IWPR’s research is important to YOU. Please click here to download your own #Unselfie template. (Print out, write your reason, and post a selfie online tagging @IWPResearch and using the #Unselfie hashtag.)
  • Like, retweet, and share our social media posts so that more people see the credible, fact-based information our researchers produce.
  • Talk to your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, social media followers, dog walkers (I better stop there, but you know what I mean) about IWPR and its work, letting them know the reason you support us and how they can find out more about our work.
  • Join our Information Network to receive our emails that feature the latest research on women, student parents, and economic security for survivors. Our Research News Roundup compiles the best publicly available research on gender released in the last month.

With your support, IWPR is able to look toward the future and find more ways our research can help women and their families. Please consider donating this #GivingTuesday in whatever capacity you can. We appreciate the continued and growing support over the past 30 years from each person who reads our publications, emails, press coverage, social media updates, and blog posts like this one. We thank you for assisting in IWPR’s ability to remain the leading women-focused think tank in the United States.