Category Archives: Resources and Articles

A catalog of collected resources, including, article and website links.

Hoffman to Discuss Behavioral Economics, Academic Advancement for Women, and More

Elizabeth Hoffman, an expert in experimental and behavioral economics, will meet with several faculty and student groups at Michigan Tech, Monday and Tuesday, December 3 and 4.

Hoffman, currently professor of economics at Iowa State, will be giving four separate presentations over the two days. Her forty-plus years in academia have included stints as a university president and executive vice president and provost, and she will address different aspects of her research and experience.

At her University-wide keynote Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom A2, she’ll address “The Evolution of Experimental and Behavioral Economics.” This event is open to the public.

“Starting in the 1950s, a small number of experimental economists challenged the economics orthodoxy of the day by studying markets in an experimental laboratory setting,” Hoffman says. “This early work helped shape our understanding of how markets work.”

Before the 1987 stock market crash, Hoffman says most economists believed that bubbles and crashes wouldn’t happen because sophisticated traders would not allow prices to deviate from intrinsic value. The 1987 crash burst that thought bubble, and more recently, behavioral economists have shown that the beliefs of unsophisticated traders can actually drive up prices, well over their intrinsic values, witness the housing bubble that burst recently.

“With my coauthor Vernon Smith [2002 Nobel Prize winner], we also looked at two-person bargaining games that feature cooperation and competition. The results revealed, among other traits, that observation leads to more fairness, equity and equality,” she says.

Hoffman will have lunch with female faculty members at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and discuss the status of women in academia. Acknowledging that there remains underrepresentation of women in many fields, she will discuss the importance of family-friendly programs, especially as they pertain to the child-bearing years of female graduate students, postdocs and faculty.  At the luncheon, she shared data about women in academia and pointed out that even though there is improvement, numbers continue to be low especially in many STEM fields. She showed data that led to many questions about the effect of having children on women in academic careers.

“While provost at Iowa State, I was able to raise the numbers of female and minority senior administrators from 20 to 60 percent,” she says. “And I was able to do so with the best people for the positions by eliminating unintended bias and ensuring that every employment pool was highly diverse.”

With the Senate Finance Committee, she will discuss “Responsibility-centered Budgeting in Higher Education.” At Iowa State, it featured decentralized budgeting with deans responsible for space and faculty benefits, including start-up costs, among other budget issues.

“Our results were dramatically positive,” she says “Even though we started it in July 2008 in the midst of the recession and lost 25 percent of our state budget, we grew our incoming student numbers by almost one quarter.” With the Senate Finance Committee at 2 p.m. Monday, she also plans to discuss faculty accountability, a subject she addressed recently in an article on the Inside Higher Ed website.

At 9:35 a.m. Tuesday, she’ll visit a class, EC4640 Natural Resource Economics, and discuss “Property Rights and the Coase Theorem.” Hoffman is an expert on the Coase Theorem, named after 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics winner Ronald Coase. It is an important basis for most modern economic analyses of government regulation.

Hoffman’s visit is part of the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series. This event is funded by the Michigan Tech President’s Office and a grant to the Office for Institutional Diversity for the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
Published in Tech Today

Gender Bias Established Through Rigorous Research

This is a very interesting article that backs up what Valian said in “Why So Slow.”  The methods of this Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper are particularly rigorous.

To quote the paper:

“Our results revealed that both male and female faculty judged a female student to be less competent and less worthy of being hired than an identical male student, and also offered her a smaller starting salary and less career mentoring.”

Thank you Audrey Mayer for bringing this to our attention.

Conference for Pre-Tenure Women

A resource for women on the tenure-track is the  Purdue Conference for Pre-Tenure Women. Highlights from the 2011 conference are listed here:

Thank you to the visitors to Michigan Tech from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG) who pointed out this resource.

Office of Institutional Diversity at Michigan Tech

From the OID:

It is critical that our campus and community recognize, appreciate, and take full advantage of the value that diversity brings to learning, research, and personal and economic development. We invite you to join Michigan Tech in creating a diverse and inclusive university that graduates students who are truly prepared intellectually, personally, and socially to create the future in a national and global society.

Childcare Resources in Houghton County

BHK Child Development Board (funded through grants).   BHK has several excellent child care centers where low-income children have first chance for slots.

Child Care Center US:

Houghton County Childcare Referral Agencies:
4C of Upper Peninsula
104 Coles Dr., Ste. F
Marquette MI 49855
Call (906) 228-3362 or Toll Free (866) 424-4532 (For In-State Use Only)
For more information, visit

Little Huskies Child Development Center

The Little Huskies Child Development Center at Michigan Tech is an on-campus pre-school serving the Michigan Tech community.

From the website:

The Little Huskies Child Development Center exists to encourage and support each child to grow and develop in a caring and nurturing environment.  The Center will be an asset to the University and supports the first goal of the University’s Strategic Plan to attract and support world-class faculty, staff, and students.  The Center is one of the many people-focused work-life initiatives intended to provide an outstanding work and educational environment for Michigan Tech faculty, staff, and students.

Little Huskies gives priority to children whose parents or legal guardians are students or employees of Michigan Tech.

The Michigan Tech Little Huskies Childcare Center is located between the Student Development Complex tennis courts and the Forestry Complex on MacInnes Drive.  Square footage is 4,400 square feet.  The center is licensed for 44 children with a maximum of 8 infants, 16 toddlers and 20 pre-school age children.

What can be done about gender bias in hiring/promotion?

Individuals in positions of authority are in the best position to make a difference when it comes to assuring that all candidates for any position are evaluated fairly, despite the documented wide-spread existence of gender schemas  (Valian, 1999). Actions that can be taken include:

  • Ensure that all evaluation committees and department heads are aware of the research on gender bias;
  • Review all processes and procedures for the presence of gender bias; revise procedures found to contain gender bias;
  • Strive to achieve at least 25% women participants in all areas; research shows that gender bias is only mitigated when this threshold is exceeded;
  • Keep an eye on the women in units where they are underrepresented. Keep them productive by not allowing indifference to their “accumulation of disadvantage” to culminate in a negative review;
  • Champion the cause of elimination/reduction of gender bias – if leaders take this seriously, especially in open meetings, others will too.

A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT

From the MIT website, speaking of the influential 1999 report “A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT“:

President Charles M. Vest: I commend this study of Women Faculty in Science to all of my faculty colleagues. Please read it, contemplate its messages and information, and act upon it personally and collectively.

I learned two particularly important lessons from this report and from discussions while it was being crafted. First, I have always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception. True, but I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance. Second, I, like most of my male colleagues, believe that we are highly supportive of our junior women faculty members. This also is true. They generally are content and well supported in many, though not all dimensions. However, I sat bolt upright in my chair when a senior woman, who has felt unfairly treated for some time, said “I also felt very positive when I was young.”

We can take pride in the candor of dialog that these women have brought to this issue and in the progress that we have made, but much remains to be done. Our remarkably diverse student body must be matched by an equally diverse faculty. Through our institutional commitment and policies we must redouble our efforts to make this a reality.

Why so slow? The Advancement of Women, by Virginia Valian

Many Michigan Tech WISE members know that I am a big fan of Virginia Valian’s book Why So Slow?  The Advancement of Women (MIT Press, 1999).  Valian’s well researched book gives women the data they need to first, convince themselves that they’re not imagining the disadvantage they feel, and second, the tools to make things better.  Here is some of what you will find there:

  • Department heads consistently evaluated resumes with male names higher than identical resumes that were presented with female names (Why so slow? Virginia Valian, p127, bottom)
  • When test subjects are presented with a group working together at a table, both male and female evaluators consistently identify a male at the head of the table as the “group leader”, but when a woman is seated at the head of the table, 50% of the time evaluators choose a male not seated at the head of the table as the “group leader.” (Why so slow? Virginia Valian, p127, top)
  • Even when an objectively measurable parameter, such as height, is evaluated, our unconscious biases influence our evaluations. In a study when subjects were asked to estimate heights of people in photographs, they consistently identified the women as shorter, and the men taller, than they actually were. (Why so slow, p6). There was no difference in the evaluations provided by male and female evaluators in this or the other studies. We all carry these schemas.
  • These effects are accentuated when women make up a small fraction (<25%) of those being evaluated (Why so slow, p140).

I have two copies in my office ready to loan to anyone who is interested in reading more of this quantitative and convincing book.

The Ivory Ceiling of Service Work

By Joya Misra, Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, Elissa Holmes, and Stephanie Agiomavritis

“How does a successful associate professor with a distinguished publication record, a visible leadership role among women scientists on campus, and prestigious grant funding for interdisciplinary initiatives in graduate and undergraduate training as well as research feel about seeking promotion to full professor?”

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