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Faculty of Economics

Monday, 9 October, 2023

The now Harvard-based economics professor, has won the biggest prize in economics for having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes.

She gave the Marshall Lecture at the Faculty of Economics in 2001-02, on the Rising (and then Declining) Significance of Gender, when she gave a lecture on how gender became a truly significant factor in the labour market in the first few decades of the twentieth century.

When she was at Cambridge for the event, she explained how gender distinctions in work, jobs, and promotion were extended and solidified in the early twentieth century and these changes became long-lived. These gender distinctions emanated from the treatment of individuals as members of a group, rather than as separate individuals.

Eric French, the Montague Burton Professor of Labour Economics at the Faculty of Economics explains "she has used rigorous empirical methods, and both recent and more historical data, to shed light on several important topics in economics; perhaps most importantly, on understanding trends in men’s and women’s employment and earnings".

Weilong Zhang is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Economics with research interests in Labor Economics. He says “Claudia Goldin's pioneering research has significantly advanced the understanding of the persistent gender wage gap and its contributing factors. One of her notable contributions is shedding light on the impact of motherhood on women's careers, highlighting the importance of occupational segregation, and elucidating the role of education in reducing gender disparities.”

Goldin is a pioneer in the field of gender economics, examining why the gender pay gap still exists today. She has shown that gender gaps will not necessarily close with economic development, and that economic growth does not always improve female labour market outcomes.

“Her focus on women's contribution to the labour market and the historical evolution of women's earnings and labour market participation has been recognized as groundbreaking. Goldin's work includes providing the first comprehensive account of women's earnings and labour market participation through analysing over 200 years of data from the United States,” says Assistant Professor Zhang.

Goldin's scholarly pursuits are also reflected in her book "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women" written in 1990, which is regarded as the first detailed account of how women’s labour force participation and earnings have evolved in the US.

“Besides this, she has authored several influential books covering topics related to the gender gap, economic history of women, income inequality, corruption, and reform.  Through her extensive research, Claudia Goldin has provided invaluable insights that help in understanding the structural and societal factors contributing to gender wage inequality, which has made a significant impact in the field of economics and beyond,” adds Zhang.

Photo credit: Editing1088, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons