The Economist's All-Male List Of 2014's Most Influential Economists Points To A Larger Problem

When Discussing The Economy, The Media Ignores Women

The lack of women on The Economist's list of the most influential economists in 2014 points to the larger problem of how women are severely underrepresented in economic discussions in the media.

The Economist magazine released a list ranking the top 25 “influential economists” for 2014. The magazine's ranking was created by Appinions, a startup company, that tracked economists based on “how much attention was paid to their utterances in the mainstream media, the blogosphere and in social media over a 90-day period.”

The list was quickly met with controversy for failing to include women, with critics highlighting the exclusion of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. Responding to the controversy, The Economist wrote that criticism of the list “misunderstands how and why it was put together” and that it was “not a ranking of the most influential economists of 2014, but a list of those economists who got most attention in the last quarter of 2014.”

But the controversy surrounding the apparent lack of women featured in The Economist's list points to a larger problem -- the lack of gender representation featured in economic discussions in the media. The Economist's study calculated influence based on media attention, a methodology that ignores the fact that media overwhelmingly turn to male economists, leaving women severely underrepresented during economic discussions in the media.

A Media Matters analysis of weekday evening cable news over one year found that female economists accounted for less than ten percent of total economist appearances throughout the year while male economists dominated over 90 percent of weekday evening cable news appearances. It also showed that men in general were hosted significantly more frequently than women to discuss the economy, with women accounting for only 28 percent of all guests in segments on the topic.

Gender of economists in segments on the economyGender of guests in segments on the economy