Top 50 list of prominent economists highlights women’s struggle for recognition in the field

When Shane Oliver’s phone rings, chances are high it’s a journalist on the line.

Mr Oliver, the chief economist of AMP Capital, is the standout performer on a list of Australia’s 50 most prominent economists in the media, racking up 2507 mentions in major print and online publications in 12 months.

His tally – which works out to nearly seven news stories a day – was more than double that of his closest rival, CommSec chief economist Craig James (1041).

Nerida Conisbee from REA Group was third, and the only woman in the top 14 places, having appeared in 959 media items.

The Streem study examined mentions in 25 leading metropolitan newspapers and websites for 12 months from April 2018 to March 2019, and revealed a large gender bias.

The subsequent top 50 list contained just nine women, while another nine made it into the top 100.

But even those women quoted were gazumped by male counterparts; the 18 per cent of women appeared in only 15 per cent of the total stories recorded

Ms Conisbee, whose REA Group is majority owned by News Corp, where most of her appearances occurred, represented more than one third of female economist mentions in the top 50.

If she were to be removed from the data, women would feature in just 10 per cent of the stories generated.

Mr Oliver alone featured in nearly 15 per cent of the stories, with a tally of 2507 media items across 12 months.

Danielle Wood, Chair of the Women in Economics Network and number 50 on the list, told Streem it was hugely disappointing to see so few women economists featured in the media.

Danielle Wood from the Grattan Institute, and Kaixin Owyong from NAB were two of just nine women to make the list
Danielle Wood from the Grattan Institute, and Kaixin Owyong from NAB were two of just nine women to make the list.

“Women make up around 35-40 per cent of economics graduates yet they continue to struggle to find visibility in the profession,” Ms Wood said.

“The skew in media coverage reinforces the ‘image problem’ for economics that it is exclusively the domain of older men.

“Economists play an important role in the public debate explaining markets and critiquing policy so it is crucial we have a diversity of voices in economic coverage.”

Conal Hanna, Streem’s Media and Partnerships Lead, said it was a shame to see only one woman in the list’s top 14 places.

“Economics is about obtaining maximum value from the skills and resources society has to offer. Sadly, it seems the media is not doing that when it comes to tapping into the skills of female economists.”

Speaking about Shane Oliver, the list’s runaway number one, Mr Hanna said while some economists were favoured by particular news outlets Mr Oliver was “simply everywhere”.

“From The Australian Financial Review to the Northern Territory News, Mr Oliver has featured in them all,” he said.

He said copy sharing across various capital city mastheads meant that Mr Oliver wouldn’t be speaking to seven journalists a day, but was appearing in that many stories on average.

The data is restricted to people who are quoted in news stories as “economists”, so doesn’t aim to capture everyone in public life who has economic training. It also doesn’t include op-ed contributions.

About Streem

Streem delivers comprehensive and realtime Print, Online, TV, Radio and Social media monitoring and insights to Australia’s leading corporate and government media teams. Every day we help organisations to monitor, analyse and respond to media as-it-happens. Find out more.

Top 50 list – rank, economist, company, media items

1. Shane Oliver, AMP Capital, 2507
2. Craig James, Commsec, 1041
3. Nerida Conisbee, REA Group, 959
4. Chris Richardson, Deloitte Access Economics, 877
5. Saul Eslake, University of Tasmania, 782
6. Alan Oster, NAB, 615
7. Bill Evans, Westpac, 573
8. David Plank, ANZ, 561
9. Martin North, Digital Finance Analytics, 555
10. Ryan Felsman, Commsec, 444
11. George Tharenou, UBS, 412
12. Paul Bloxham, HSBC, 357
13. Bruce Hockman, ABS, 339
14. John Edwards, Lowy Institute, 317
15. Sarah Hunter, BIS Oxford Economics, 315
16. Tim Reardon, Housing Industry Association, 307
17. Daniel Gradwell, ANZ, 301
18. Kaixin Owyong, NAB, 299
19. Michael Blythe, CBA, 268
20. Matthew Hassan, Westpac, 259
21. Sally Auld, JP Morgan, 248
22. Gareth Aird, CBA, 240
23. David de Garis, NAB, 238
24. Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute, 237
25. Stephen Anthony, Industry Super Australia, 233
26. Ross Garnaut, University of Melbourne, 232
27. Rick Newnham, Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, 226
28. Stephen Koukoulas, Market Economics, 219
29. Richard Holden, University of NSW, 212
30. Stephen Roberts, Laminar Group, 203
31. Terry Rawnsley, SGS Economics and Planning, 195
32. Andrew Hanlan, Westpac, 177
33. John Adams, As Good As Gold Australia, 177
34. Ben Jarman, JP Morgan, 172
35. Shane Garrett, Master Builders Australia, 171
36. Joanne Masters, Ernst & Young, 165
37. Marcel Theiliant, Capital Economics, 163
38. Felicity Emmett, ANZ, 161
39. Jim Stanford, The Australia Institute, 160
40. Kristina Clifton, CBA, 159
41. David Bassanese, BetaShares, 158
42. Belinda Allen, CBA, 153
43. Brendan Rynne, KPMG, 153
44. Tom Kennedy, JP Morgan, 152
45. Callam Pickering, Indeed.com, 147
46. Brian Fisher, BAEconomics, 134
47. Ivan Colhoun, NAB, 130
48. Peter Collins, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 124
49. Stephen Duckett, The Grattan Institute, 123
50. Danielle Wood , The Grattan Institute, 121

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