Unveiling Gender Inequalities

In the dynamic landscape of gender equality, the respect for women’s rights has become a constant global endeavor. Within CREST, researchers and PhD candidates actively engage in understanding and studying gender inequalities, whether in the fields of economics or sociology. This article explores CREST’s research work, highlighting nuanced perspectives and innovative methodologies to study these societal and academic issues.

Sociological Perspectives

In sociology, Léa Pessin‘s recent article focuses on gender inequalities in domestic tasks. Analyzing how couples in the United States navigate changes in women’s roles in the workforce while balancing career and family needs, Pessin’s research goes beyond the usual focus on specific aspects of work or family.
This innovative approach identifies that in 2019, only 14% of different-sex couples in the United States adopted an egalitarian division of labor, where each partner works full-time and shares domestic tasks equally. This result underscores that the time dedicated to domestic tasks, crucial for family functioning, is often invisible and undervalued, presenting a genuine social challenge for gender equality.
Joining CREST-GENES-ENSAE Paris in September 2023, Pessin’s work focuses on the unequal consequences of the gender revolution on women’s work and family outcomes, considering social class, race, and context. She recently received the prestigious ERC Starting Grant for the WeEqualize project, debuting in September 2024. WeEqualize adopts a historical and comparative approach to examine the implications of the gender revolution on social inequalities in work-family strategies among different-sex couples across countries and periods.

Economic Perspectives

In economics, Béatrice Cherrier, associate professor at CREST-CNRS, works on exploring the history of economics, highlights women economists. Demonstrating that the current recognition of women in the economic profession is not recent and has its roots in the 1970s, Cherrier’s research challenges the idea that, until recently, the prominent thinkers and practitioners in economics were exclusively men.
In collaboration with co-authors, her publication “Economic is not a Man’s Field: CSWEP and the First Gender Reckoning in Economics: 1971-1991” explores the history of gender recognition through the archives of the American Economic Association. Beyond supporting women economists, gender inequalities are a recurring theme at CREST among studies developed by PhD candidates in economics and sociology.

Doctoral contributions

Léa Dubreuil, in her third year of doctoral studies at CREST-GENES-IP Paris, specializes in labor economics and gender inequalities, with a particular focus on women’s behavior in the labor market following childbirth. Her work revolves around two specific projects related to gender inequalities:
With Bertrand Garbinti and Carole Bonnet, their research focuses on inequalities in the labor market between women and men after the birth of the first child. They observe a significant decline in wages and hours worked for women compared to men. The uniqueness of this project lies in the ability to examine what happens within a couple.
In collaboration with Marion Brouard, Léa’s project explores the reasons for the decrease in the number of hours worked by women after the birth of the first child. They examine how mothers’ preferences for personally caring for their children can explain the rate of part-time work among mothers and their behavior regarding family public policies.

Federica Meluzzi, a fourth-year doctoral student at CREST-GENES-IP Paris, also works on labor economics and public economics, with a focus on gender differences in the labor market. Specifically, her work addresses differences in job search behavior between the sexes, the influence of social norms, and the role of parental policies on equality within couples.
In an article, currently in the final stages and titled “The College Melting Pot: Peers, Culture and Women’s Job Search,” she presents large-scale evidence on the effects of the social environment, represented by university classmates, on women’s job search behavior and career choices.
Federica relies on administrative and survey data covering all university graduates in Italy, combined with quasi-random variations in gender norms among peers, measured by the local characteristics of the province of origin.
Her results indicate that exposure to classmates with a more egalitarian gender culture leads to significant increases in women’s labor supply, both through greater acceptance of full-time jobs and increases in their working hours. Analysis of original data on students’ beliefs reveals that the main mechanism at play is that of social learning.

Gender Inequality Discussion Group

CREST’s PhD candidates remain committed to highlighting gender inequalities and advocating for women’s rights. The “Gender, Family, and Sexuality” reading group, initiated by economics and sociology PhD candidates, promotes discussions on research articles, whether original or not.
With 26 participants (professors, PhD candidates, and research assistants), this interdisciplinary reading group facilitates exchanges on current gender-related topics, presenting innovative sociological and economic results and methodological tools.

While the developed research represents only a sample of the undertaken projects, it is crucial to emphasize that CREST’s research is not limited to isolated initiatives. Moreover, these studies rely on innovative tools and approaches. These innovative methodologies (new data, new data analysis techniques) form the foundation for significant advancements in both societal and academic domains, such as advancing women’s rights by deciphering gender inequalities.
CREST approaches gender inequalities with a multidisciplinary perspective. These efforts contribute not only to shedding light on crucial questions in fields such as economics and sociology but also actively shaping the landscape of gender inequality research.

CRESTive Minds – Épisode 4 – Samuel Coavoux

Researcher portrait: Samuel Coavoux, assistant professor at CREST-ENSAE Paris.

What is your career path?
After my PhD, I worked for five years at Orange, a leading French telecommunication company, as a digital sociologist. Orange is one of the few French companies to have a whole team devoted to social scientific research, something that is quite common elsewhere. I did research on various themes, like cultural consumption, platform work, and digital advertisement.

Why did you study sociology? 
I majored in Political Science and East Asian Studies, and originally wanted to work in the media. I started reading and studying social science books seriously on an exchange program in Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan. I was a bit lost in translation and social sciences was a good way to understand what was going on around me.

When I came back, I applied for a Master Program in Sociology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, where there were a lot of sociologists of culture.

Your co-authored “La fin du Game. Les jeux vidéo au quotidien” (Endagme. Videogames and daily life) published by Presses Universitaires, shows that video games audiences are different than what we usually think. Can you tell us more about this? 
This was a collective project led by Hovig Ter Minassian. We did a national representative survey of videogame practices in France, among the 11+ population.

Our first aim was to broaden the dominant view of videogames as a young, male, working-class activity, a view that is aligned with how “gamers”, people whose social identity incorporates videogame playing, define what true games and true gaming is.

In this view, there are “real games” that are difficult, challenging, engaging, and mere entertainment.

We show that taking all digital games seriously yields very different estimates on the prevalence of video games: about 60% of the population, and virtually 100% of teenagers, engage in digital games, be they “casual” smartphone games (e.g. Candy Crush), light party games (e.g. Mario Kart), or hardcore video games (e.g. League of Legends). This is about 20 percentage points above what previous surveys have measured by asking respondants not if they played video games, but if they were video games players. There is a large difference between identity and practice.

Have you noticed any correlations between video game playing and demographic properties?
When we look at the details, there are many differences in practice, intensity, and diversity of video game playing. Age is the best predictor. Gender is also very important: men are more likely to play, and to play frequently, than women at every age — but young girls are still much more involved in video games than adult men. They also play different kind of games, with action, adventure, sports, and strategy games being more masculine.

Social class and education are not very correlated with intensity of frequency, but they are linked with device choice: working class players favor consoles and upper-middle class players favor computers. This is linked with professional uses of computers and is a divide that might increase, as we are seeing that, with the massification of smartphones, rates of computer equipment are actually declining among the working class. In that sense, video games are linked with digital inequalities.

You have also been studying digital consumption in other settings, such as music. In a recent paper, you start with a puzzle: why is YouTube the leading platform for music consumption even though qualitative research show that music consumers do not look at the videos. Can you tell us why? 
This was intended as a case study in environmentally inefficient consumption practices, with my colleage Jean-Samuel Beuscart.

Streaming videos are about four times as energy consuming as the equivalent audio track. If one does not watch the video but only listens to the sound, this energy is wasted. The total impact is very small compared to that of cars, planes, or cattle and we are not suggesting regulating access to digital music. But is is interesting to look at the reasons why some sociotechnical configurations persist even though there are clear alternatives (Spotify or Deezer perform the same service as YouTube).

We show that YouTube can be framed as a free and open listening platform (especially to casual listeners), as an efficient soundtracking device in many contexts, and as a useful complementary listening and music sharing device, and that, as a consequence, is better adapted to some consumption contexts.

Your recent research focuses on algorithms and their effects on consumption. It is often said that platforms trap consumers into filters bubbles. Is that the case?
The literature has produced mixed results and the picture is not very clear. It seems more and more that is is not the case: platforms are actually a bit more diverse than real life interactions. I am studying this in various ways.

With Abel Aussant, we are using survey data and matching techniques to estimate the effect of digital consumption on the diversity of tastes and we see a small, positive, significant effect: using digital platforms actually increases diversity in cultural consumption, which we measure with the number of different movie genres people watch, or music genres they listen to.

In another project, with platform data, I also show that the music chosen by algorithms is a bit more diverse than that we tend to focus on when we choose what to listen to.

Finally, with Jean-Samuel Beuscart, we take a qualitative look at what it means to use algorithms. The literature insists on jow they threaten people’s agency, because they are the one choosing what we will hear. This is not that new – radio stations play a large part in deciding what music people listen to. We show that consumers usually use algorithms knowingly, when they prefer to delegate choice, because they are focusing on something else, and because having to choose among a very large catalog can be a burden in many situations.


Related literature

Hovig Ter Minassian, Vincent Berry, Manuel Boutet, Samuel Coavoux, Isabel Colon de Carvajal, David Gerber, Samuel Rufat, Mathieu Triclot et Vinciane Zabban (2021), La fin du game ? Les jeux vidéo au quotidien, Tours, Presses Universitaires François Rabelais.

Jean-Samuel Beuscart, Samuel Coavoux & Jean-Baptiste Garrocq (2023). “Listening to music videos on YouTube. Digital consumption practices and the environmental impact of streaming”. Journal of Consumer Culture, 23(3).

Click here to access Samuel Coavoux’s Personal website

CREST, a multidisciplinary laboratory

On June 19, 2023, CREST organized a day dedicated to doctoral students was held.

At this event, doctoral students from the 4 research divisions (economics, sociology, finance-insurance and statistics) were able to exchange ideas with their colleagues and present their areas of research.


CREST favors an interdisciplinary approach to tackling complex issues. This synergy between different areas of expertise enriches research and provides innovative perspectives in a variety of fields such as the sociology of work, public economics, green finance, political economy, statistical analysis of networks and many others.

Thanks to this multidisciplinary approach, the CREST laboratory fosters fruitful collaborations between researchers from different backgrounds, encouraging the emergence of innovative solutions to contemporary societal challenges

Fields of research by division

… At all levels

CREST maintains a wide range of academic and industrial partnerships beyond its core themes. These enriching interdisciplinary collaborations help to provide innovative solutions and tackle complex challenges in a wide range of sectors. CREST works with financial institutions (Caisse des dépôts et consignation, La Banque Postale Asset Management, HSBC AM) and public institutions (Ile de France region) to examine the determinants and impacts of integrating environmental, social and governance issues into investment decisions or to assess their climate and sustainable finance action plans (City of Paris, Ile de France region).

These interdisciplinary partnerships demonstrate CREST’s commitment to tackling contemporary challenges by mobilizing a wide range of knowledge and expertise.

Doctoral studies at CREST 

Working in the CREST laboratory, doctoral students benefit from a stimulating environment, conducive to the exchange ideas and collaboration with researchers from a variety of backgrounds. This diversity of approaches fosters the acquisition of cross-disciplinary skills and enables doctoral students to develop a holistic vision of their field of study, strengthening their ability to conduct innovative research and meet the challenges of tomorrow.