Nobel Prize in Economics Awarded to Harvard’s Claudia Goldin for Work on Gender Gaps
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Nobel Prize in Economics Awarded to Harvard’s Claudia Goldin for Work on Gender Gaps

Economic historian and labour economist has tracked the changing fortunes of women in the workplace

By SARAH CHANEY CAMBON
Tue, Oct 10, 2023 8:48amGrey Clock 3 min

BOSTON—Harvard University’s Claudia Goldin is a labor economist, teacher and mentor. She is now also a Nobel Prize winner for her groundbreaking research on women in the workforce.

Goldin was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on Monday, the third woman to receive the economics prize since the award started in 1969. The 77-year-old Harvard economist has spent decades analysing troves of data to produce research illuminating the history of women’s job-market experiences.

Goldin’s expansive work portfolio includes pieces on the drivers of female labor-force participation, the origins of the gender pay gap and hiring biases against women. Her paper, “Why Women Won,” which documented the evolution of women’s legal rights, published this month.

The winner of the 2023 Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel American economist Claudia Goldin is seen on a display at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm on October 9, 2023. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

“Goldin’s discoveries have vast societal implications,” said Randi Hjalmarsson, professor of economics at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Goldin was admittedly tired upon entering Monday’s press conference at Harvard. She was, after all, asleep when she received the early-morning call with the news of her Nobel Prize. Still, her passion regarding decades of research and relationship-building radiated as she spoke at a press briefing.

“The increase of women in economics is important for a host of reasons,” Goldin said. “For me personally it has been important because I have had the most wonderful co-authors.”

One such co-researcher, Claudia Olivetti of Dartmouth College, said Goldin’s body of work has shaped much of the current research on women and labor markets. Perhaps less well known, Olivetti said, is Goldin’s extraordinary mentorship of women.

Goldin “has been a source of inspiration to many women in economics, generously sharing her experiences and demonstrating the possibilities of success,” Olivetti said.

Some professors view themselves as researchers, rather than teachers. Not Goldin.

“I could never do research without doing teaching,” she said. “When I teach, I am forced to confront what I think is the truth.”

Goldin was the first woman to secure tenure in Harvard’s economics department. She follows Esther Duflo in 2019 and Elinor Ostrom in 2009 as female recipients of the economics Nobel Prize.

Goldin is married to Lawrence Katz, also a Harvard economist. Both are avid bird watchers and hikers, colleagues said. She has a 13-year-old golden retriever named Pika and no children.

Around the world, 50% of women have paid jobs, compared with 80% of men, although that gap is smaller in advanced economies. Across the developed economies, women earn 13% less on average and are less likely to play senior roles in the organisations they work for.

Goldin’s research questioned the assumption that women had steadily, or would inevitably, narrow those gaps. Using data that had previously attracted little attention, she established that far fewer women worked in paid employment in the early 1900s than in 1800, while that share rebounded as the 20th century advanced, albeit slowly.

Her writing includes 1990’s “Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women.” Examining 200 years of data, Goldin tracked the changing fortunes of women in the workplace as it changed from farm to factory to office.

She also identified some of the considerations that affected the decisions made by women about their participation in the workforce, as well as the constraints they faced at particular times. In one well-known paper, she examined the effect of the contraceptive pill on decisions about work and marriage.

The pay gap between male and female workers had long been attributed to differences in educational attainment, with women typically spending fewer years in formal education.

But that can no longer be true of many developed countries, where women are now better educated on average than men. Instead, Goldin’s work indicates that the gap in pay occurs with the birth of a first child, with women typically devoting more time to child care.

But darker forces are also at work. In one paper, Goldin and co-author Cecilia Rouse from Princeton University showed that the number of female members of the leading U.S. symphony orchestras rose sharply in the 1980s partly because of the adoption of “blind” auditions, where the candidate for an orchestra position auditioned behind a screen, concealing their gender or race from those doing the hiring.

In their paper, called “Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of ‘Blind Auditions’ on Female Musicians,” the authors found data across decades of hiring by symphonies both before and after the introduction of blind auditions to show that about a quarter of the increase in female members of orchestras over that time was due to blind auditions, suggesting previous bias.



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A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now

Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Fri, Jun 14, 2024 5 min

Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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