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Joni Hersch is an economist who works in the areas of employment discrimination and empirical law and economics. Her recent research demonstrates that women who are graduates of elite institutions have lower labor market activity than their counterparts who are graduates of non-elite institutions and examines the consequences of this labor market disparity for societal equity. Other research shows that graduates of non-elite institutions rarely earn post-baccalaureate degrees from elite universities, and even when they do, they do not catch up monetarily with graduates of elite undergraduate institutions. Current research with Jennifer Shinall examines information exchange in the hiring process. Many people on both sides of the hiring process think it is illegal, or at minimum inappropriate, to ask personal information about children or marital status. Counterintuitively, this research shows that a female applicant strongly raises her chance of getting hired if she gives personal information clarifying her resume gaps. Her research on these topics, as well as her research on skin color discrimination, has received international media attention, and has been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Vox, NBC News/TODAY, BBC, Science Daily, Business News Daily, Cosmopolitan, The Daily Mail, New York Daily News, Bloomberg Businessweek, US News and World Report, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and LA Times.

Professor Hersch joined Vanderbilt Law School as a professor of law and economics in 2006, with secondary appointments in the Department of Economics and the Owen Graduate School of Management. That same year, she and W. Kip Viscusi co-founded Vanderbilt’s Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics. She is also a research fellow with IZA Institute Labor Economics and co-editor of the IZA Journal of Labor Economics. Over the course of her career, Professor Hersch has published numerous articles in the leading economics journals on group differences in labor market outcomes, sexual harassment, immigrant workers, judge and jury behavior, the economics of home production, models of litigation, job risks, and product safety regulation. She is the author of Sex Discrimination in the Labor Market (Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics, 2006) and co-editor of Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century (University of Chicago, 2004). Professor Hersch is associate editor of the Review of Economics of the Household. In November 2012, Professor Hersch completed a two-year term as a vice-president of the Southern Economic Association. She was honored as one of two recipients of the 2013 Mentoring Award presented by the Vanderbilt University Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center.

Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty, Professor Hersch was an adjunct law professor at Harvard Law School. She was a professor of economics at the University of Wyoming from 1989-99 and has been a visiting professor of economics at Northwestern, Caltech, Duke, and Harvard.

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