Claudia Goldin, Harvard professor and trailblazer, won the 2023 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her life’s work and research on women in the labor market. She is the third woman in history to win the award, and the first to be honored with it solo rather than sharing the prize with a man.
Dr. Goldin, 77, was the first woman to be offered tenure in Harvard’s economics department in 1989, and has had a storied career studying the changing roles of working women over time, and the causes of the continued pay gap between men and women. Her research shows that women’s role in the labor market has shifted as social norms and women’s own ideas about the division of workplace and home labor have evolved. Dr. Goldin has tracked this evolution over time, layering on events like the Industrial Revolution, the later increase in service jobs, increased higher education for women in the 1970s, and even the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her research also shows that the process of closing the gender wage gap has waxed and waned over the course of history. Randi Hjalmarsson, a member of the Nobel committee, said, “She can explain why the gender gap suddenly started to close in the 1980s. And she can explain why the earnings gap has stopped closing today and the role of parenthood.”
Dr. Goldin’s findings have societal and cultural implications as we continue to navigate uneven treatment of women in the workforce. It shows that over the course of history, the trajectory of women in the workforce has changed and evolved, but has never remained stagnant. Thanks to the work of Dr. Goldin, we have a better understanding of what it will take to break through the gender pay gap and work toward an equitable future.
Born and raised in New York City, Dr. Goldin started her career researching the history of the US southern economy before focusing on the role of female workers in American industrialization. These areas of study shined a light on how female workers had largely been excluded from the economic story of the United States. From then on, Dr. Goldin focused on the evolution of the female labor force and its impact on economic growth.
Congratulations to Dr. Goldin. We thank her for her many contributions to ensuring women and their roles in the workforce are known and celebrated (and maybe we’ll see her on an updated version of our custom wallpaper!).