The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded on Oct. 9 to Claudia Goldin, a Harvard professor, for advancing the world’s understanding of women’s progress in the workforce.
She is only the third woman to have won the economics Nobel, which was first awarded in 1969, and the first one to be honored with it solo rather than sharing in the prize.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said she had "advanced our understanding of women's labour market outcomes," pointing to her work examining 200 years of data on the U.S. workforce, showing how and why gender differences in earnings and employment rates changed over time.
"This year's Laureate in the Economic Sciences, Claudia Goldin, provided the first comprehensive account of women's earnings and labor market participation through the centuries, her research reveals the causes of change, as well as the main sources of the remaining gender gap."
Her research found that married women started to work less after the arrival of industrialization in the 1800s, but their employment picked up again in the 1900s as the service economy grew. Higher educational levels for women and the contraceptive pill accelerated change, but the gender pay gap remained.
"Claudia Goldin's discoveries have vast societal implications," said Randi Hjalmarsson, a member of the committee awarding the prize. While historically the earnings difference between men and women could be blamed on educational choices made at a young age and career choices, Prof Goldin found that the current earnings gap was now largely due to the impact of having children.
"She has shown us that the nature of this problem or the source of this underlying gender gap changes throughout history and with the course of development," she said.
Describing her as "a detective," Prof Hjalmarsson said her work had provided a foundation for policymakers in this area around the world.
Globally, about 50% of women participate in the labor market compared to 80% of men, but women earn less and are less likely to reach the top of the career ladder, the prize committee noted.
The six Nobel Prizes are awarded annually from a fund established by Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel and are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards given for intellectual achievement in the world. Dr. Goldin, a tenured professor of economics at Harvard University, is only the 64th woman to receive a Noble prize out of 954 people since 1901.
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Marilee Wallace, IOM, president/CEO of the North Idaho Alliance Women of Impact.
The Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable meets once a month for a nine-month series, and we base our monthly agenda on the word IMPACTED. To see the lineup of our monthly topics and to get details or view additional programs NIA is offering to Impact women in our region, please visit our registration page at www.thenialliance.com or join https://www.facebook.com/groups/972216519983800.