I love podcasts. For a long time, I didn’t understand why people were so obsessed with them. But once I started listening to a few, I realized how great it is to simply listen, without any visual distractions. Video hasn’t killed the radio, in my opinion. So here is a list of some of my favorite podcasts by women:


This show is among my absolute favorites. The host, Krista Tippet, interviews physicists, poets, theologians, painters, writers, and many others who delve deep into the “big questions of meaning.” For an atheist, this podcast really helped me gain a new and better understanding of religion. Highly recommended.

  • Invisibilia by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin, and Alix Spiegel


Invisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” I am a relatively new listener, but I am enjoying it so far. A lot of their material is truly great, but sometimes, within the same episode, there is a not-so-good story. For instance, I highly recommend their recent episode ‘Outside In’ about the first all-female debate team in Rwanda, but feel free to ignore the initial bit about a fake celebrity prank in NYC.


This podcast is “about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.” There are stories about people who use Planned Parenthood, about parents who have lost a child, about unsuccessful artists, about middle-aged angst, and much more.

  • Happier by Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft


And when you need a break from the hard stuff, it might be wise to listen to Happier, a podcast that offers tips for a happier life. We all need some!


This is a tech show about existential quandaries in the digital age. Is your phone watching you, for instance? Listen if you want to find out.


This is an American spin-off of the original Australian podcast of the same name by the same host. Each episode takes up a topic that typically ignites passionate opinions, such as organic food and fracking, and presents the scientific evidence we have on it.


A live comedy podcast from Jessica Williams (from the Daily Show with Jon Stewert) and her “BFF.”


I am not a parent, but I did listen to this podcast for quite a while. Eventually, of course, I stopped since it wasn’t exactly relevant! But, if you are a new parent, I am certain it is a very useful one. New episodes are released late into the night when several new parents are likely to be up :-).

P.S. One of the advantages of being an academic is being able to enjoy at least two new years every year. It’s always nice to have a fresh start. Hope everyone will have a great Fall semester/ quarter!




  • Does exposure to female colleagues reduce discrimination against them? A recent paper  in the European Economic Review examines this question in an interesting set-up. The authors “study discrimination among recruits in the Norwegian Armed Forces during boot camp. In a vignette experiment, female candidates are perceived as less suited to be squad leaders than their identical male counterparts. Adding positive information leads to higher evaluations of the candidates, but does not reduce the amount of discrimination. The boot camp provides an ideal setting for studying inter-group contact. We find that intense collaborative exposure to female colleagues reduces discriminatory attitudes: Male soldiers who were randomly assigned to share room and work in a squad with female soldiers during the recruit period do not discriminate in the vignette experiment.”


  • Indian gymnast, Dipa Karmakar, just missed an Olympic medal by a small margin. She is the first Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics. Dipa is one of only five women worldwide who have successfully completed the Produnova, the most difficult vault currently performed in women’s gymnastics. Here is an excellent article by Sharda Ugra of ESPN on Dipa, on the northeastern state of Tripura where she comes from, and on the story behind gymnastics’ unusual popularity there. Dipa doesn’t like “all the dancing stuff” in women’s gymnastics. “She would rather throw herself into a routine without any frills or coquetteish moves – just like the men in their floor exercises, minus even the music. That idea in women’s gymnastics is, however, almost heretical.”


  • The American Bar Association officially bans the use of misogynistic terms such as “honey” and “darling.” Meanwhile, a study finds that more than 50% of women in advertising face sexual harassment. It seems the Mad Men era is far from over.


  • Bridal slaves. “India has the world’s largest number of slaves, among them are an increasing number of women and girls sold into marriage.” Marriage market consequences of sex-imbalances?

People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI)


A mechanic

The People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) is an excellent resource not only for researchers and practitioners of development policy but also for anyone interested in learning more about rural India. PARI is “a living journal, a breathing archive” that documents the “everyday lives of everyday people” through video, still photo, audio, and text archives.


A farmer

The breathtaking variety of rural India is often lost in stereotypical portrayals of the poor. It “is in many ways the most diverse part of the planet. Its 833 million people include distinct societies speaking well over 700 languages, some of them thousands of years old. The People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) tells us the country as a whole speaks some 780 languages and uses 86 different scripts…The eastern state of Odisha alone is home to some 44 tribal languages. The PLSI also reckons close to 220 languages have died in the past 50 years.”


A cobbler

In addition to this linguistic diversity, there is plenty more that needs to be recorded and that’s what PARI’s mission is. For instance, they cover artisans and handicrafts, migrant workers, farmers, tribals, Dalits, the resource conflicts in India, travelers, children, modes of transportation, sports, clothing…the list goes on. It is a crazy, awesome journalistic endeavor that is recording the good, the bad, and the ugly in rural India.


The activists

Anyone can contribute. Their stories are also “gradually turning multi-lingual, with…” volunteers translating articles in “Malayalam, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Hindi, Assamese, and Marathi.”  Check out their collection on rural Indian women here.

Photo credits: PARI




– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

I was born in the Eighties; so audio cassettes, VHS tapes, and floppy disks were a big part of my life at some point. And now, these receptacles kill time in dusty boxes with their songs, movies, and data, well-aware that the world has moved on. Luckily, these sort of technical changes/ innovations offer empirical industrial organization researchers, like Julie Mortimer, excellent opportunities to learn about firm behavior, pricing strategies, and so on.

Julie Mortimer is a tenured Associate Professor in the Economics department at Boston College. She received a Ph.D. degree from UCLA and B.A. from Carleton College. Before joining Boston College in 2011, she worked at the Harvard Economics Department for several years. Julie is also a Research Associate of the NBER. Julie has served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Industrial Organization and is currently a member of the Journal of Economic Literature’s editorial board.

Julie’s research interests lie in the field of empirical industrial organization. Among other things, she has examined the introduction of DVDs, the video rental industry, copyright infringement and enforcement in the market for digital images, and vertical rebates in the chocolate industry in her papers. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

Her paper, “Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances,”(co-authored with Chris Nosko and Alan Sorensen) examines “the negative impact of file-sharing on recorded music sales and offsetting implications for live concert performances.” While their “study focuses on the music industry, the economic phenomena [they] analyze are clearly relevant in many other markets. For example, digital copies of movies may cut into home video sales, but may also lead to higher demand for movie-related merchandise. An author’s royalties from book sales may be reduced if the book is digitally shared, but the increased readership may lead to profits on the lecture circuit. Mass sharing of a pirated software program may displace paid licenses for that program, but may also generate increased sales of complementary physical products or technical support services.” They “find that file-sharing reduces album sales but increases live performance revenues for small artists, perhaps through increased awareness. The impact on live performance revenues for large, well-known artists is negligible.”

For more information about Julie and her research, check out her website.

Female Prisoners in the United States

The conversation around police brutality and racial bias in the US criminal justice system is mostly about men, which is reasonable since more than 90% of the inmates are male. Women comprised 7% of the prison population in 2010 as compared to 4% in 1980 (The Sentencing Project). Here, however, is a look at some trends for women. In terms of race AND gender, the group experiencing the sharpest increase in incarceration since 2002 is White Females, whereas Black Females experienced a sharp decline. The graph below, recently posted on Twitter, is from a paper-in-progress by economists Rajiv Sethi (Barnard College) and Glenn Loury (Brown University).


The graph below, from The Sentencing Project, compares the number of female inmates by race. In absolute terms, female inmates are predominantly White, followed by Blacks and Hispanics.


The pattern for women is different from that of men, where the bulk of incarcerated males are Black.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 5.11.19 PM

As of 2009, nearly “25.7% of women in prison were serving time for drug offenses,” as compared to 17.2% of men. Another reason why more women than men are incarcerated for drug crimes is something called the “girlfriend” problem. It seems that “the only means of avoiding a mandatory penalty is generally to cooperate with the prosecution by providing information on higher-ups in the drug trade.” However, these women are in most cases involved in the drug trade because of a partner who is a drug seller and these “girlfriends” have relatively little information to trade in exchange for a more lenient sentence. “In contrast, the “boyfriend” drug seller is likely to be in a better position to offer information, and so may receive less prison time for his offense than does the less culpable woman.”

All this is not to suggest that race does not matter. But these trends do highlight the complexity of racial issues.”While these developments should not be taken to suggest that the era of mass incarceration of African Americans has ended by any means, it is nonetheless significant that there have been changes in this regard.” I hope to see more rigorous research on these dynamics in the near future.

For more details on the changing racial dynamics of female incarceration, read this report by The Sentencing Project.



– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.-

Rema Hanna, besides being one of the nicest economists, is the Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South East Asia Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a development economist with a “special interest in understanding how to make government services “work” for the poor in developing countries. She has worked on large-scale field projects with governments and non-profits to understand how to improve safety net systems, reduce bureaucratic absenteeism, and reduce corruption.”

Rema also has several papers on environmental issues. One of my favorites is her 2014 AER paper with Michael Greenstone. “Using the most comprehensive developing country dataset ever compiled on air and water pollution and environmental regulations, the paper assesses India’s environmental regulations.” They find a large impact of the air pollution regulations, but no effect of the water pollution regulations. They “cautiously conclude that the striking difference in the effectiveness of the air and water pollution regulations reflects a greater demand for improvements in air quality by India’s citizens.”

Rema is also a Co-Director of the Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) research program at Harvard’s Center for International Development, the Scientific Director for South East Asia at J-PAL, a Research Associate at the NBER, an affiliate of BREAD, and a faculty affiliate at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. She is currently on the editorial boards of the Review of Economic Studies, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Journal of Human Resources. Rema received a Ph.D. degree from MIT and B.S. in Public Policy from Cornell University.

For more details on her research, check out Rema’s website.

Fathers and Daughters


By now you have probably read Barack Obama’s piece in Glamour where he writes about feminism. He says: “So I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty aware of the unique challenges women face—it’s what has shaped my own feminism. But I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.

Daughters indeed change their fathers’ attitudes on gender issues. We have plenty of evidence on this by now. Research by sociologist Rebecca Warner has shown that “both fathers’ and mothers’ support for public policies designed to address gender equity increases when parents have daughters only…The findings are stronger for men.” Moreover, “when men have sons only, they show the least support for gender equity public policies.”

Economists have explored a similar relationship in the political sphere. A paper by Yale economist, Ebonya Washington, shows that having a daughter increases a male United States Representative’s propensity to vote liberally on reproductive rights legislations. The effect is similar for Democrat and Republican fathers. The study is inconclusive on the impact daughters have on female Representatives.

The same is true in the UK and in Germany. A study by Andrew Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee shows that “having daughters leads people to be more sympathetic to left-wing parties. Giving birth to sons, by contrast, seems to make people more likely to vote for a right-wing party.”

In fact, the father-daughter relationship may underlie greater rights for women. In a really interesting paper, economists Michele Tertlit and Matthias Doepke, try to understand why men voluntarily relinquished some of their rights to women. It was voluntary because the expansion of women’s legal rights took place long before women gained the right to vote. The authors “show that men face a tradeoff between the rights they want for their own wives (namely none) and the rights of other women in the economy. Men prefer other men’s wives to have rights because men care about their own daughters and because an expansion of women’s rights increases educational investments in children…This tradeoff…has shifted over time, because of a changing role of human capital. When the return to education increases, finding well-educated spouses for one’s children becomes a more important concern. Similarly, a rising return to education increases fathers’ concern about the rights of their daughters, because the daughter’s marital bargaining power matters for the grandchildren’s education. According to the authors’ theory, the “technological change that increased the demand for human capital…elevated the importance of children’s education, it strengthened men’s incentives to expand women’s bargaining power, and it ultimately induced men to voluntarily extend rights to women.”

If you are interested in a more detailed literature review on how child gender affects parents, this paper by Shelly Lundberg , who, by the way, is the new Chair of CSWEP, is a good start.

Have a great weekend!






– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.-

One of my daydreams is to write an awesome economic history paper. We’ll see when that comes true, but meanwhile, let me tell you about Leah Boustan. Leah is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at UCLA. Her interests span economic history, labor economics, and urban economics. Her research focuses on the Great Black Migration from the American South during and after WW II and the mass migration from Europe to the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In her 2010 QJE paper, Leah analyzes post-WW II suburbanization and “white flight” in the United States. “The distinctive American pattern—in which blacks live in cities and whites in suburbs—was enhanced by a large black migration from the rural South” during World War II and the subsequent decades. “Between 1940 and 1970, four million black migrants left the South, increasing the black population share in northern and western cities from 4% in 1940 to 16% in 1970. Over the same period, the median nonsouthern city lost 10% of its white population.” Leah shows that “white departures from central cities were, in part, a response to black in-migration. In every decade, cities that received a larger flow of black migrants also lost a larger number of white residents.” She estimates that each black arrival led to 2.7 white departures and “rules out an indirect effect on housing prices as a sole cause.” Reminds me of the contrasting experience of modern San Francisco.

Leah is also a Research Associate of the NBER, a Research Associate of the California Center for Population Research, and an External Research Fellow of the Center for Research and Analysis of Migration, University College London. She is currently on the editorial boards of the American Economic Review, Explorations in Economic History, Historical Methods, Journal of the European Economic Association, and the Journal of Urban Economics. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and A.B. from Princeton University.

For more interesting papers and some cool black and white photographs from the past check out Leah’s website.




Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, in office 1969-1974

  • Janet Jagan, an American married to an Indo-Guyanese man, became the President of Guyana in 1997. The economist Tansu Çiller was Turkey’s first female Prime Minister; in an unprecedented move that still seems radical, her husband took her surname. This and a lot more interesting stuff in this New Yorker piece on women in politics.
  • In an effort to close the wage gap between men and women, Massachusetts has become the first state in the United States to prohibit employers from asking about applicants’ salaries before offering them a job. Companies will not be allowed to prohibit workers from telling others how much they are paid, a move that can increase salary transparency and help employees discover disparities.
  • Recently, the Indian Supreme Court permitted a woman to obtain an abortion after 24 weeks’ gestation–the law imposes a 20-week limit–on a plea that she was raped by her boyfriend on the false promise of marriage. Women’s rights organizations in India widely consider the 20-week limit imposed by the law irrational, outdated and unconstitutional. Some coverage here and here.



  • A Radiolab episode, Staph Retreat, about two female academics at Nottingham—a microbiologist and a historian—who chanced upon a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon remedy using onion, garlic and part of a cow’s stomach to cure an antibiotic-resistant superbug. Fascinating! A quick summary here.
  • Have you seen the Da Da Ding video that features Indian sportswomen? Highly recommended, especially if you love rap, but perhaps with headphones! Some enterprising folks have also made a new version that features everyday Indian women who have been “doing it anyway, for centuries. Without appreciation, without support, often, in very difficult conditions. With great cooperation. Definitely without shoes that cost more than what they earn in a month.” And, if you do not recognize the athletes in the Nike video–most people do not–meet them here. It is great that Nike chose to feature the relatively unknown sportswomen and didn’t simply go to Sania Mirza (currently ranked world no. 1 in women’s doubles tennis) and Saina Nehwal (ranked world no. 1 in women’s badminton in 2015) who are at least widely recognized in India, if not globally.
  • Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Dialogue: Krista Tippet talks to reproductive rights activist, Frances Kissling, and Christian ethicist, David Gushee, for a more nuanced discussion of abortion rights.
  • Not gender-related per se, but here is an excellent series from This American Life that reminds us of the humanity of Muslim refugees even as the politicians, the media, and a lot of us collectively continue to stereotype and caricature them.

A bunch of us from our show went to refugee camps all over Greece. We found people falling in love, kids mad at their parents for dragging them to Europe, women doing their laundry in a baseball stadium locker room, and hundreds of people living at a gas station—sitting next to the pumps, smoking. Also: wild pigs. 57,000 refugees are stuck in Greece, making homes in some surprising locations. We hear what that’s really like.