Professor Rohini Pande, Rafik Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School and co-director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), was honored by the American Economic Association for advancing the status of women in economics.

The Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP) presented the 2018 Carolyn Shaw Bell Award to Pande during the annual meeting of the American Economics Association in Atlanta in January. The award comes at a time when women are gaining key leadership roles in economics, yet gender gaps remain greater in economics than in other social sciences.

The award honors “an individual who has furthered the status of women in the economics profession through example, achievements, increasing our understanding of how women can advance in the economics profession or mentoring others,” CSWEP said in a statement.

The committee highlighted Pande’s achievements as a mentor for women in the profession: “Peers and mentees alike comment on her outstanding ability and energy as a mentor. She takes complete and active responsibility in her role, giving a lot of her time and simultaneously being respectful of diversity of opinion and views among mentees. In addition, she mentors all along the economics pipeline, from undergraduates to graduate students, postdocs to junior colleagues at her own and other universities, to support their future success.”

“Engagement with younger scholars is a two-way street,” Pande noted. “I find that they expand my thinking about research and challenge my preconceptions on career trajectory. In turn, I aim to provide information and not advice, for people can do something very different to what I’ve done and be successful.”

The announcement comes at a time when only 13 percent of full professors in economics are women. A 2004 study showed that women in economics were less likely than in other disciplines to get tenure, and it took longer to achieve it. And progress is slow: survey data showed that was essentially zero increase in the proportion of women assistant, associate, and full professors in the five years between 2007 and 2012. 

Still, Pande is optimistic. “As a development economist, I’m thrilled that in 2019 the top economist positions at international finance groups such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the UK’s Department for International Development will be occupied by women,” she said. “There’s significant evidence that this can play a role in changing young women’s aspirations.”

Pande’s work examines the pathways linking economic and political circumstances with women’s well-being. On politics, she and coauthors have examined how changing family structure can influence women’s political preferences in the United States, and how gender quotas in politics can lower voter bias against female candidates in India. Also in India, her work has shown that the presence of female political representatives can raise girls’ stated career aspirations. In the economic sphere, she and coauthors have examined how son preference can contribute to child malnutrition, the role of gender norms in affecting female labor supply, and how financial products can be designed to improve women’s economic lives – in terms of entrepreneurial successrisk-taking behaviors, and strengthening their social networks

The Carolyn Shaw Bell Award was presented to Pande at the annual CSWEP business meeting and award ceremony held during the 2019 AEA Meeting in Atlanta. Named for the first Chair of CSWEP, the award has been given out annually since 1998.