Discrimination in the Formation of Academic Networks: A Field Experiment on #EconTwitter

58 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2023 Last revised: 26 Sep 2023

See all articles by Nicolas Ajzenman

Nicolas Ajzenman

McGill University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Bruno Ferman

Sao Paulo School of Economics - FGV

Pedro C. Sant'Anna

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics, Students

Date Written: January 13, 2023

Abstract

This paper experimentally documents discrimination in the formation of professional networks among academic economists. We created fictitious human-like bot accounts that claimed to be PhD students in economics, differing in three characteristics: gender (male or female), race (Black or White), and university affiliation (top- or lower-ranked). The bot accounts randomly followed Twitter users who form part of the #EconTwitter academic community. Follow-back rates were 12% higher for White students compared to Black students; 21% higher for students from top-ranked universities compared to accounts of lower-ranked institutions, and 25% higher for female compared to male students. The racial gap persisted even among students from top-ranked institutions, suggesting that Twitter users racially discriminate even in the presence of a signal that could be interpreted as indicative of higher academic potential. Notably, we find that Black male students from top-ranked universities receive no more follow-backs than White male students from lower-ranked institutions

Keywords: Discrimination, Economics Profession, Gender, Race, Social Media

JEL Classification: J15, J16, A11, C93, I23

Suggested Citation

Ajzenman, Nicolás and Ferman, Bruno and C. Sant'Anna, Pedro, Discrimination in the Formation of Academic Networks: A Field Experiment on #EconTwitter (January 13, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4323614 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4323614

Nicolás Ajzenman

McGill University - Department of Economics ( email )

855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 2T7
CANADA

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Bruno Ferman

Sao Paulo School of Economics - FGV ( email )

Rua Itapeva n 474
Sao Paulo, DC 01332-000 20052
Brazil

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/brunoferman/

Pedro C. Sant'Anna (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

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