'Feminazi,' 'prostitute,' 'horny': Unsettling study zeroes in on how economists talk about women online

Women talking in officeMiguel Villagran/Getty ImagesThe 30 words most associated with conversations about women are unsettling.

A new study of online conversations between economists identifies the words most commonly used to describe men and women, and appears to show the biases faced by women in the field, The New York Times reported.

The study, “Gender Stereotyping in Academia: Evidence from Economics Job
Market Rumours Forum” was conducted by Alice H. Wu, a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Wu analysed more than a million posts from an anonymous message board called econjobrumors.com, which is popular among economists.

The 30 words most associated with conversations about women are unsettling. Most had to do with physical appearance or sexuality. The list is:

hotter, lesbian, bb, sexism, tits, anal, marrying, feminazi, slut, hot, vagina, boobs, pregnant, pregnancy, cute, marry, levy, gorgeous, horny, crush, beautiful, secretary, dump, shopping, date, nonprofit, intentions, sexy, dated and prostitute.

But on the male side, the trend is much different:

juicy, keys, adviser, bully, prepare, fought, wharton, austrian, fieckers, homo, genes, e7ee, mathematician, advisor, burning, pricing, fully, band, kfc, nobel, cat, amusing, greatest, textbook, goals, irritate, roof, pointing, episode, and tries.

In the paper, Wu, who is about to begin doctoral studies at Harvard, said the anonymous aspect of posts “eliminates any social pressure participants may feel to edit their speech.”

Other male-dominated sectors — like the tech industry and Wall Street — have been plagued with similar claims of sexism toward women.

Uncovering and talking about these biases against women in economics is necesary to fix the problem, according to Wu.

“Things will get better as we discuss the issues openly,” she told Inside Higher Ed.

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