The dismal science just got more dismal. In recent weeks, multiple allegations of sexual harassment against senior male economists have been aired, mainly on social media. Economics is having a #MeToo moment. The most surprising thing is how many people find it surprising. After all, the economics profession is infamous for its appalling record on women. Nearly half of female economists in a 2019 US survey reported they had been discriminated against based on sex or didn't speak at conferences and have kept away from social events to avoid possible harassment and disrespectful treatment. One study found that women are asked 12 per cent more questions than men in economic seminars and that the questions are more likely to be hostile or patronising. A 2018 study analysed posts about women on a popular economics jobs website. It found that nine of the top 10 predictive words contained explicit sexual references. Posts about women contained 43 per cent fewer academic or professional terms. They were 192 per cent more likely to contain terms related to personal information or physical attributes. Little wonder there are few women in economics. Only 13 per cent of economics professors are female. We've never had a female Treasurer. We've never had a female leader of the Reserve Bank, the Treasury, the Productivity Commission, ASIC or APRA. The chief economists at the big four banks are all men. This is a big problem. First and foremost, it makes life miserable for our female colleagues. Imagine being a victim of sexual harassment only then to see the alleged perpetrator receive the Nobel Prize. It reduces the credibility of our profession. Economists rave about the virtues of competition in producing optimal outcomes. When we look at our own profession, the hypocrisy is breathtaking. The sheer lack of diversity among economists reveals that most economists don't face much competition at all. The quality of our advice is diminished, too. Countless studies have found that increased gender diversity in management positions improves firm performance. Having more women in economics opens new lines of research. A survey by the Reserve Bank shows that women have very different interests in economics than men, including globalisation, inequality and the environment. As Jacqui Dwyer points out, women have been at the forefront of key areas of research that would otherwise have been neglected. With so many problems, what can we do? READ MORE: First, it would be helpful if more male economists took the problem seriously. It was striking when undertaking the research for this article that almost all the papers and articles on gender in economics were written by women. Men need to step up. Our priority should be to protect and promote the current cohort of female economists. The Jenkins Review showed that power imbalances were a major driver of unsafe environments, and economics is riddled with them. At my university, the ANU, you can only apply for promotion if the head of your department and the head of your school gives their personal approval. Creating "gatekeepers" is a fantastic way to create power imbalances that can be abused. We see them everywhere: from receiving scholarships and getting on good projects, to being recruited and getting admitted into many study programs. Second, we need to change the way economics seminars, peer review processes and recruitment processes are conducted. Economists love data. At a minimum, we should be collecting and transparently publishing data on how women fare against men in each of these areas. There's a strong case for ditching the aggression that is weirdly celebrated in economics seminars and peer review processes. Having gender quotas on recruitment and peer review panels is a no brainer. Third, given we have so few female economists, we need to actively promote and develop the current cohort. We are a lot better at creating more opportunities for women to contribute their economic expertise through public speaking and media engagements. We are less good at providing women the opportunities that actually matter for career development. Female economists should be prioritised for opportunities to publish in leading journals (particularly when publication is by invitation), complete post graduate studies, get scholarships, publish op-eds and undertake secondments. These are the things that advance careers in economics. Gender diversity on public speaking panels advance the interests of the organisation that's hosting it but do little for the women on the panel. Along with the mentoring and supports of the Women in Economics Network, this will help create the female role models to inspire the next generation which are rapidly turning their backs on economics. Year 12 enrolments in economics are plummeting, particularly among women. Enrolments were about 50/50 on gender in the early 1990s. Today, it's 65/35 in favour of men. For university enrolments, it's about 60/40. A key problem is that female students are much better at economics than they think. This "confidence gap" was identified by Reserve Bank research. Female students report having a poorer understanding of economics even though their test results show the opposite. The gender imbalance in economics will get worse unless we start actively marketing economics to female students and making it an attractive profession to work in. At a time of pandemic recovery, impending global recession, climate change and anaemic productivity growth, economics has never been more important. It's time to clean up the dismal science.