Why we're thrilled Claudia Goldin has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics

Why we're thrilled Claudia Goldin has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics
Why we're thrilled Claudia Goldin has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics

We're thrilled Claudia Goldin has been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Economics - only the third woman ever to do so. She received the award for her work on women's labour market participation and, particularly, the gender pay gap.

Goldin's contribution is nothing short of groundbreaking. By examining more than 200 years of history, her work has done so much to help us understand why the gender pay gap exists, how it has changed over time and what interventions will most likely enable us to close it.

She challenged preconceptions about the gender pay gap. For example, Goldin showed that greater economic growth didn't lead to greater female participation in the workforce. In the years after the industrial revolution in the USA, the pay gap actually widened - with one of the reasons being the difficulties of balancing a job in a factory with childcare.

Goldin also explored the effects of improved technological advances. One of her most famous findings was on the impact of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s. Her work showed that, by reducing the risk of unplanned pregnancies, it allowed women to delay marriage, and invest more in education and career development.

Even though we now know so much more about it, the gender pay gap stubbornly remains, like the last guests to leave the party. In fact, research from The Guardian earlier this year found that the median pay gap in the UK stands at 9.4% - the same as it was five years ago.

Estimates suggest that closing the gender pay gap could add $7 trillion to the global economy. So, how can we go about doing so? It is, of course, a complex question but we wanted to finish this post with a few recommendations inspired by Claudia Goldin:

1. Flexibility from employers: The gender pay gap increases with age, often as a result of women taking on the majority of childcare responsibilities. One solution Goldin has suggested is that employers offer more options for when to work and how much to work. She says the gap "might even vanish if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who worked long hours and who worked particular hours."

2. Encourage 'dual-career couples': Goldin has called for policies that would mean childcare responsibilities don't only fall on one parent's shoulders and mean that both could pursue their career potential. One example she has put forward is reducing the cost of childcare.

3. Provide guidance and mentorship: In the days since Goldin won the prize, we've been amazed by how many people have spoken about her mentorship. It has reminded us of how important it is for us all - both men and women - to provide support and guidance to help women navigate their careers successfully. Doing so can create inclusive working cultures that mean women are more comfortable discussing pay and promotions, career breaks and childcare - all issues that have an impact on the gender pay gap.

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