Joyce P. Jacobsen, President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, is the recipient of the 2021 Carolyn Shaw Bell Award. Jacobsen is the first woman to serve as the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Named after the first chair of Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP is the author of this release), the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award was created as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration of the founding of CSWEP and has been given annually since 1998 to an individual who has furthered the status of women in the economics profession through example, achievements, increasing our understanding of how women can advance in the economics profession or mentoring others. Jacobsen has excelled on all of these criteria. This award will be presented at the virtual CSWEP business meeting and award ceremony to be held during the 2022 AEA meeting.
Jacobsen completed an A.B. degree in economics, magna cum laude, at Harvard, an M.Sc. degree in economics at the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in economics at Stanford. Jacobsen spent most of her career at Wesleyan University, joining the faculty there in 1993 after five years at Rhodes College. She has had visiting assistant professor appointments at Harvard University and Northwestern University, among other institutions. She was tenured in 1996, became Full Professor in 2000, and was appointed as the Andrews Professor of Economics in 2003. At Wesleyan she also served in many leadership positions, including Chair of the Economics Department, Dean of Social Sciences and Director of Global Initiatives, and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. She received Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2007. Jacobsen assumed the presidency of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in July of 2019.
Jacobsen may be best known for the textbooks she has written, including The Economics of Gender, which is in its third edition and has become the standard textbook in the field. Her book offers a comprehensive, and up-to-date introduction to the contemporary research on the differences between women’s and men’s economic opportunities. It considers issues raised across several academic disciplines and integrates an international comparative perspective. One letter writer writes, “By analyzing patterns across race, ethnicity, and class, the book offers readers the tools by which to explore public policy impacts in a more meaningful and richer way.” She has also written extensively in labor economics, including the economics of gender, sex segregation, migration, and the effects of labor force disruptions on women’s earnings. She co-edited the volume Queer Economics: A Reader with a former student. Last year, she published the book titled Advanced Introduction to Feminist Economics, which uses the lens of feminist economics to examine economics as a whole and numerous subtopics, including addressing issues in economic development, environmental and ecological economics, and international trade and finance from a feminist perspective.
In addition to her scholarship, Jacobsen is an award-winning teacher, generous citizen of the profession, an exceptional advisor and mentor, and a respected and skillful academic leader. Her commitment to women’s issues is unquestionable. As one of her letter writers says, “Dr. Jacobsen has worked hard to advance the position of women in the economics profession.” She has served on a variety of organizations central for women in the economics profession, including as a board member and president of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFE), as an associate editor of Feminist Economics, and as a board member of CSWEP. She was also a member of the Advisory Committee for Status of Women in the States project at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Jacobsen has been professionally active in many areas of the profession. For example, she was the editor of Eastern Economic Journal and an associate editor or editorial board member of Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Wine Economics, and Social Science Quarterly. She also served on the AP microeconomics test development committee and as a reviewer for numerous journals, presses, and economics department reviews.
Jacobsen had a stellar record of mentoring and advising in her years at Wesleyan, creating a regular pipeline of students to Ph.D. programs. One letter writer says that, “Joyce has consistently promoted women and under-represented groups in economics.” She regularly advised senior theses not just in Economics, but also in Women’s Studies and interdisciplinary College of Social Studies. One letter writer says that “She has advised more senior honors theses per year—in Economics, Women’s Studies, and the interdisciplinary College of Social Studies—than anyone else in Wesleyan’s Economics Department.” She has also been a role model to her junior colleagues. Letter writers mentioned how she goes above and beyond her professional duties to advise junior faculty, as well as her peers.
Jacobsen has been an “amazing inspiration and mentor” (as mentioned by a letter writer). Another letter writer says that, “Her gender and economics course that I took sophomore year opened my eyes to sex discrimination in the labor market, and her tales of her own experiences as a woman and a mother in a field dominated by men were inspirational, if not a little daunting.” Her mentorship does not stop after a student graduates, but it continues throughout their lives. This is possible because of her amiable and approachable nature— characteristics that are helpful for a gifted mentor.
Jacobsen adds to the list of other amazing women who have contributed immensely to the profession. In chronological order, from the most recent to the first awardee, the recipients have been: Nancy L. Rose, Yan Chen, Rohini Pande, Rachel Croson, Cecilia Rouse, Janet Currie, Hilary Hoynes, Rachel McCulloch, Catherine C. Eckel, Sharon Oster, Elizabeth Hoffman, Elizabeth E. Bailey, Anne Carter, Olivia S. Mitchell, Barbara Fraumeni, Claudia Goldin, Barbara Bergmann, Robin L. Bartlett, Margaret Garritsen de Vries, Francine Blau, Marianne Ferber, Eva Mueller, Sandra Ohrn Moose, and Alice Rivlin.
CSWEP is a standing committee of the American Economic Association charged with promoting the careers and monitoring the progress of women economists. It sponsors mentoring and networking activities, conducts an annual survey of economics departments, and distributes professional development materials and career advice. CSWEP endeavors to raise awareness of the challenges that are unique to women’s careers in economics and of best practices for increasing diversity in the economics profession.