Appointing female managers is a common proposal to improve women’s representation and outcomes in the workplace, but it is unclear how well such policies accomplish these goals. Using newly-collected panel data on academic departments, I exploit variation in the timing of transitions between department chairs of different genders with a difference-in-differences research design. For faculty, I find female department chairs reduce gender gaps in publications and tenure for assistant professors and shrink the gender pay gap. Replacing a male chair with a female chair increases the number of female students among incoming graduate cohorts by ten percent with no evidence of a change in ability correlates for the average student.
We document wide and persistent variation in women’s representation and success across graduate programs in economics. Using new data on early career outcomes for recent graduates, including first job placement, publications and tenure, we rank (anonymized) departments on relative outcomes for women graduate students. We then conduct interviews with faculty and former students from five programs with better and worse relative outcomes. We find that schools with better outcomes for women also hire more women faculty, facilitate advisor-student contact, provide collegial research seminars, and are notable for senior faculty with awareness of gender issues. We offer our qualitative evidence as the first step in learning about “what works” in expanding women’s representation in economics.