Alexia Delfino Wins the Unicredit Foundation's Award on Gender Economics

Alexia Delfino Wins the Unicredit Foundation's Award on Gender Economics


Alexia Delfino, Assistant Professor at Bocconi’s Department of Economics, is one of the two recipients of Unicredit Foundation’s 11th Best Paper Award on Gender Economics. The prize-giving ceremony will take place in a hybrid form during a workshop on gender equality, on 29 November 2021 at 2pm, at Bocconi University (CLICK HERE to register).
“As long as some jobs are considered a preserve for men and other jobs a preserve for women, gender equality will be an elusive goal,” Alexia Delfino says. That’s why, in her award-winning paper “Breaking Gender Barriers: Experimental Evidence on Men in Pink-Collar Jobs”, she adopts an original angle, asking why men rarely enter into jobs much in demand but commonly considered a better fit for women.
More than 75% of social workers are women and the share has not been shrinking since the 1980s. This could be explained in (at least) two ways: either perceived gender shares (a question of identity) or expectations of returns to ability (a question of information). In a field experiment conducted with a UK-wide employer of social workers, Delfino modified social workers recruitment messages underlining, in turn, either one or the other aspect.
“Information turns out to be the relevant point for men,” Delfino says. “Increasing expected returns to ability encourages men to apply and improves the average quality of the applicants, while gender shares do not affect their choice.” A spillover effect on women was also recorded: when they perceive that there will be more men, women less frequently apply and leave more frequently the job when their performance is not good.
In the other winning paper, “Peer Effects and the Gender Gap in Corporate Leadership: Evidence from MBA Students,” Francesca Truffa (Northwestern University) investigates the underrepresentation of women in corporate leadership positions. She finds that female MBAs are 24 percent less likely than male MBAs to enter senior management within 15 years of graduation. Women who attended MBA sections with a larger share of female students, though, enjoy a higher likelihood of entering senior management (while the same is not true for men attending the same sections). This effect is driven by female-friendly firms, such as those with more generous maternity leave policies and greater work schedule flexibility. A larger proportion of female MBA peers induces women to transition to these firms where they attain senior management roles.
Unicredit Foundation’s Best Paper Award on Gender Economics is open to young scholars (born after 1985 in the latest edition), who must be citizens of or enrolled in a PhD program located in one of the 13 countries belonging to the geographical scope of Unicredit (Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia).
“During the workshop, the two authors will discuss their papers in an academic fashion,” says Paola Profeta, Bocconi Professor of Public Economics and a member of the Scientific Committee of the Award, “with the contribution of a keynote speaker such as LSE’s Nava Ashraf, a leading expert on economics of the family.

by Fabio Todesco
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