November 2023

IZA DP No. 16631: Gender Diversity and Diversity of Ideas

Michèle Belot, Madina Kurmangaliyeva, Johanna Reuter

Diversity in employee representation is often advocated for its potential to promote the diversity of ideas, and thereby innovation. In this study, we shed light on the phenomenon of 'idea homophily', which is a tendency to be more interested in ideas closer to one's own. We first document recent trends in the Economics Academic junior hiring showing that women specializing in traditionally male-dominated fields are faring significantly better than their counterparts in female-dominated fields and even outperform their male peers. We then examine the demand for ideas in a college educated population with an Online experiment involving 500 participants. We find substantial gender differences in which ideas people are choosing to engage with. Also, when decision-makers are predominantly male, incentives encouraging engagement with female ideas increase substantially their demand, but disproportionately in male-dominated fields. In contrast, incentives encouraging ideas in female-fields in general increase exposure to female ideas but do not lead to an over-representation of either gender conditional on field.