I heard him give a talk yesterday. He commits what he calls the “Summers heresy” and suggests that there are important gender differences. On mathematical/spatial reasoning, men have a higher mean and, more important, a higher variance. So the upper tail of that distribution is predominantly male. Meanwhile, on conscientiousness, women have a higher mean.

He suggested that in recent years, economics has become less extremely mathematical. In addition, some of the new empirical techniques may reward conscientiousness more than extreme math. Thus, women are playing a larger role.

I was born at the wrong time. I attended graduate school near the peak of ultramasculine economics (my term). The math was almost too much for me (in fact, five years later it would have been too much for me). I have always doubted the value of the theorem-proving approach to economics. I note that these days many people are sharing my doubts about the mathematical macro that emerged during what Paul Krugman calls the “Dark Age.” However, unlike Krugman, I do not think that we can simply go back to old Keynesianism. I think that there were many problems with Keynesianism circa 1970 that were not solved by coming up with mathematical solutions for the Lucas critique. The Leamer “con” of econometrics problem and the “unit root” problem are what caused me to “lose my religion” regarding macroeconometric models. See my lost history paper.

Also, I spent a lot of time in graduate school thinking about the deeper issues of monetary theory and unemployment. The result is that I have always harbored doubts about the fundamental Keynesian story. Hence my interest in the alternative that I call PSST.

In any event, Ultramasculine macroeconomics is not the answer. Maybe some of who are less able to do extreme math may nonetheless have better theories.

[UPDATE: The article by Jones in EconJournalWatch is here]