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How To Get Credit At Work
Aalto Creative Sustainability via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Heather Sarsons, a PhD student in economics completing her dissertation at Harvard has just written a much-discussed paper about how gender may impact how you get credit for the work you do.

Sarson's dissertation is on the topic of gender balance in her own field: academic economics. She studied the publication histories of young economists recruited by top universities in the U.S. over the past 40 year — a field where publishing academic research is a crucial requirement and pre-requisite for achieving a position of tenured professorship.

Her conclusions in "Gender Differences in Recognition for Group Work", are potentially disheartening for those who regularly collaborate with male colleagues at work. Essentially, she finds that when women work with men to publish academic research, they don't do so well.

Specifically, she finds that female co-authors who publish the same amount of research as their male counterparts do not end up winning tenure at the same rates at men — who are 2x as likely to do so. It appears that those women who work with men to publish research receive less than their equal share of the credit for their joint product.

So what's a woman to do? Apparently, women do get full credit — and tenure — when working alone on their publications. They also receive their fair share of the credit when they work with other women.

The NYTimes ended their article about Ms. Sarsons appropriately: "As for Ms. Sarsons, a young economist who will have to navigate this thicket, she is taking her own advice. Her paper begins by saying, “This paper is intentionally solo-authored.” It is the only way to be sure that she gets credit for this very important work."


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