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Seminar «Did the Soviets Solve the “Productivity Puzzle”? Gender Differences in Science during Transition»

IZA-HSE University International Labor Seminar was held on April 27, 2021.

Speaker: Ina Ganguli (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)

Title: Did the Soviets Solve the “Productivity Puzzle”? Gender Differences in Science during Transition

It is well documented that women are underrepresented in science and that they tend to publish fewer scientific articles than men, commonly known as the “productivity puzzle”. We might expect these gaps to have been smaller in the Soviet Union, which had a large scientific labor force and ideology stressing gender equality in the labor market. Using a large unique dataset of over 15,000 Soviet scientists and their publications, I estimate a gender gap in publications of 24% in Russia during Soviet times, with a small deterioration to 27% after the Soviet collapse. Both estimates are larger than published estimates of the gap during these periods in the US. The gender gap in citations was even larger than the publication gap, at close to 50% in both periods. Analysis of panel data for Soviet scientists shows that the productivity gap increased in part because women experienced a greater fall in publications after the end of the USSR compared to men. I show that an important factor in the size and dynamics of the gender gap was likely gender segregation by scientific field; women were much more likely to be in the Life Science sand Chemistry than in Physics and Mathematics, and these were the fields that had the greatest declines in productivity and from which individuals were the most likely to exit science.

Discussant: Anna Lukyanova (HSE).