LETTER : Economics needs more women

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Sir: Diane Coyle ("mainstream economics needs to get a firm grip on reality", 27 March) argues that since there are few women economists, the mainstream profession focuses on questions like: what explains the growth and distribution of incomes over time? We are given, as an example of a more interesting non-mainstream question: why are the incomes of the skilled rising relative to the unskilled?

Surely both questions are interesting and both are being addressed by mainstream economics (The February edition of the oldest economics journal in the world, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, has a paper by DiNardo and Pischke which explores the latter question).

The fact that only 4.3 per cent of economics professors are women is a worry. Women might tend to focus on different questions than men, and what really drives the subject forward is interesting questions. So diversity of imagination is an asset for the discipline. But there is no need to abandon 300 years of intellectual progress.

Professor IAN JEWITT

Department of Economics

University of Bristol

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