˲ Regular email updates, or Skype
discussion sessions: successful groups
typically designate a mentee who starts
the email conversation on a certain
day of each month, which generates a
thread of updates.
˲Face-to-face meetings at conferences that most group members attend: successful groups typically
schedule their own work sessions to
give feedback on each other’s papers or
grant proposals during a conference.
˲Substantive interaction around
research, setting norms and expectations of continued input as careers progressed: more-productive members set
a standard for the less-productive ones.
˲Procedural interaction around
norms of the profession, explicitly communicating what is often unspoken.
˲Mentorship and sponsorship by
senior mentors: effective senior mentors often introduce junior women to
other senior colleagues and initiate
workshop or seminar invitations.
Impact of CeMENT in Academia
The interim results of CeMENT sug-
gest that putting women in touch
with other women with similar re-
search interests across institutional
boundaries is helpful, and that this
type of mentoring program improves
women’s grant and publication re-
cords. As a result of the publication
of the CeMENT evaluation, which es-
tablishes a benchmark for the effects
of mentoring female assistant profes-
sors in the economic profession, sim-
ilar mentoring programs have been
established by various professional
associations, such as the American
Philosophical Association, the Chi-
nese Women Economists Network,
the Japanese Women Economists
Network, and Association for the Ad-
vancement of African Women Econo-
mists. Subsequent programs do not
use RCT to select a treatment and
control group. Instead all eligible ap-
plicants are treated.
Application to Academic
Women-to-women mentoring has
been in the fabric of the computing
field for a long time. Systers, an email
listserv, was founded by Anita Borg
in 1987 and is still active with over
6,000 members today. Its members
include academics, computing professionals, and students. Since 2010,
the Computing Research Association
Women (CRA-W) has held early career
mentoring workshops for women and
since 2013 mid-career workshops for
women. Mentoring is a major feature
of the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, sponsored by the Anita Borg Institute. One
focus of the Academic Alliance in the
National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) is the retention of women in academia. Many
of the lessons learned in CeMENT
are already practiced in the computer
science community. It is encouraging to see that many of the practices
employed in the computer science
community to improve academic retention have been validated in the CeMENT controlled study.
1. Blau, F.D. et al. Can mentoring help female assistant
professors? Interim results from a randomized
trial. American Economic Review 110, 2 (May 2010),
2. Blau, F. D., Ferber, M. and Winkler, A. The Economics of
Women, Men and Work. 6th ed. Pearson/Prentice-Hall,
Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2010.
3. Ginther, D.K. and Kahn, S. Women in economics:
Moving up or falling off the academic career ladder?
Journal of Economic Perspectives 18, 3 (2004),
4. McDowell, J.M., Singell, L.D., and Slater, M. Two to
tango? Gender differences in the joint decision to
publish and coauthor. Economic Inquiry 44, (2006),
5. Zweben, S. and Bizot, B. Taulbee Survey. Computing
Research News 28, 5 (2016), 2–60.
Yan Chen ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Daniel Kahneman
Collegiate Professor of Information at the University
of Michigan, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of
Economics at Tsinghua University.
The author thanks Rachel Croson, Janet Currie, Richard
Ladner, and Laura Razzolini for their helpful comments.
Copyright held by author.
treatment effects in terms of the three
main predictors of successful tenure
in Economics, the total number of
publications, the likelihood of top-tier
publications, and the total number of
federal grants in treated women relative to those in the control condition.
By three years after the intervention, participants in the treatment
have two more publications than
those in the control condition, and by
the fifth year, those in the treatment
group have three additional publications. When evaluating the magnitude
of the treatment effects, one must
bear in mind the differences in publication norms between economics and
computer science. Unlike computer
scientists who typically publish several short papers ( 5–10 pages) each year,
an economist typically publishes 1–2
longer ( 40–50 pages) and more substantive papers each year. This thus
represents an extra year of productivity for those who were mentored.
Another measure of career success
in economics is top-tier publications,
which refer to the top-five general-in-terest journals among more than 300
economic journals. At least one top-tier publication is often necessary for
tenure promotion in many economics
departments in research universities.
Participants in the mentoring workshop were 20 percentage points more
likely to have a top-tier publication
after three years and 25 percentage
points more likely after five years.
Lastly, obtaining a NSF or NIH
grant is quite unusual among junior
economists compared to computer
scientists who are expected to fund
their own Ph.D. students. By the fifth
year, workshop participants had 0.4
more NSF or NIH grants than those in
the control condition.
Lessons learned. Although junior
women in the treatment group on average are more successful than their
control counterparts, considerable
heterogeneity in activity levels exists
among different groups. We summarize several features that might have
contributed to the success of the program and characterize some of the
more active groups:
˲Initial programwide co-located
training workshop: this workshop
creates opportunities for group members to get to know each other’s work.
mentoring has been
in the fabric of
the computing field
for a long time.