The Way Women Work: Playing Second Fiddle (Even When They’re The Concertmaster)

The Way Women Work: Playing Second Fiddle (Even When They’re The Concertmaster) November 12, 2015

Even when they’re first authors, award-winning professors, and heads of the most important economic institution in the world, female economists are treated as their husband’s trailing spouse:

Justin Wolfers describes how “Power Couple” economists don’t receive equal credit when their work is reported on or described.

Slate’s David Plotz described the research as having been written by “Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton and Anne Case, who is his wife, and also a researcher.” Likewise, Ross Douthat, writing in The New York Times Sunday Review, described this as research by “Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton and his wife, Anne Case.”

Well, isn’t that sweet? Maybe she’s his research assistant or something, and he wanted to give her a little credit! He must be a really nice guy to let her dabble in economics like that!

My better half, Betsey Stevenson, was pleased to see our joint research described in the article, but was chagrined to discover Ms. Slaughter had demoted her from first to second author on the paper. At the time Ms. Slaughter’s article was published, Betsey was serving as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, where she had developed a much larger footprint on work-family balance issues than I ever had.


It’s really sweet that Mr. Wolfers has called attention to his darling little wife’s accomplishments, isn’t it? He’s so cute.

I wonder if he’s ever had the experience my husband has had, where he declines to answer a question by saying, “I don’t actually know–but my wife wrote a dissertation on that exact question,” and watches his questioner nod politely to his wife before returning to him to repeat the question.

I had plans to publish a few joint projects with my husband, who is in the same academic field I am.

But until I live in a universe where the sentence, “Dr. Sours’s co-author, Stephen Sours, who is also her husband, has done some work in theology, too,” is even thinkable, I’m not sure I want to.

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