When Jennifer Pate talks about experimental economics, full speed is half speed to her. She sees her work through the lens of opportunity. Question, discover, move forward, and repeat. There is no time to waste.

Jennifer recently finished the first of five visits to Tucson as a Freedom Center Visiting Fellow as part of her year-long sabbatical during the 23-24 Academic Year. She lauds the program, calling it an “Academic Vacation” that provides a unique environment to dig into research, engage with collaborators, reinforce a pipeline of new research ideas, and serve as a guest lecturer to UArizona students on campus.

She shared a story about working with another visiting fellow in Tucson, Laura Razzolini, Professor of Economics and Department Head at the University of Alabama.

“Laura and I were sitting in the office together; I was deep in the data, juggling spreadsheets, while she was writing the first draft. Being present in person while working on the project powered our progress.”

Their project is titled “Lying Out of Obligation: Cheap Talk in an Ultimatum Game with Outside Obligations” and explores how an employer’s implicit bias about financial responsibilities may be responsible for a portion of the gender gap in wages. This study is also co-authored with Shakun Mago, Professor of Economics at the University of Richmond.

Jennifer lists her research and teaching expertise as Industrial Organization, Experimental and Behavioral Economics, Applied Microeconomics, Forensic Economics, Economics of Giving, and Altruism. She loves being in the lab, running experiments, and addressing real-world challenges.

“Students in my Political Economy Through Experiments class enjoyed Jennifer’s guest lecture and gained an appreciation for how we test behavioral theories to better understand decision-making,” Mary L. Rigdon, Freedom Center Director and Associate Professor of Political Economy and Moral Science, said. “She has a unique ability to communicate, simplify complex issues, and highlight the relevance of research to improving our society. Her work on the gender gap in political ambition and my research addressing the myth that women are not as competitive as men are complementary. Our findings lead to continued progress.”

Jennifer has co-authored two articles with Richard Fox, Loyola Marymount University Professor of Political Science, addressing the gender gap in political ambition to help understand women’s under-representation in politics. The most recent publication, Knowing the Competition: Gender, Qualifications, and Willingness to Run in Elections, appeared in Political Research Quarterly (Vol. 76, Issue 2).

They note that when the 118th Congress convened in 2023, 71 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives and 75 percent of the U.S. Senate were occupied by men. Men control 76 percent of state governorships and run City Hall in 68 of America’s 100 largest cities.

Why does one of the most advanced societies lag far behind the rest? Jennifer and Richard took to the lab to examine men’s and women’s decisions to launch a campaign. They discovered that women’s perception of whether they are qualified significantly impacts their decision to run, while men tend to ignore information about their unsuitability to run for office.

“The lab can control for variables that allow us to address specific questions and scenarios,” Dr. Pate notes. “The data suggests that women are less likely to self-promote, holding themselves to a higher standard in general, and must be convinced they are best qualified to do the job to enter the election.”

Their most recent study aims to further disentangle why women tend to be less willing to run for office, looking more closely at self-confidence, political preferences, and party affiliation. New sessions, run in August at the TIDE Lab at the University of Alabama, allowed them to access a greater range of backgrounds and experiences in the subject pool.

Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Davis. She earned a Master of Science and her Ph.D. in economics at Purdue University. Purdue’s Vernon Smith Experimental Economics Laboratory, named in honor of the 2002 Nobel laureate and friend of the Freedom Center, ignited her interest in the field. She joined the Loyola Marymount University Department of Economics in 2005, served as Department Chair from 2011-2019, and was Associate Dean of Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts from 2019-2023.

“We’re thrilled that Jennifer is a Freedom Center Visiting Fellow. It supports her scholarship and benefits our faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. We look forward to seeing more of Jennifer on campus in the coming months,” Dr. Rigdon concluded.