Dr. Janice Madden, Fels Faculty Steering Committee Member, celebrates her retirement from Penn this May. Dr. Madden is a Professor of Regional Science and Sociology, as well as a Founder and Academic Affiliate of Econsult Corporation. Meg Pierce, MPA ’18, sat down with Dr. Madden to discuss her impressive career and time at Fels.
Please describe your current work/research at the University of Pennsylvania:
I have now retired from full time teaching, but will be teaching a course per year at Penn for the next 3 years. I continue to work with Econsult, currently serving as a consultant to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance and the Solicitor’s Office of the US Department of Labor, and private clients.
How did you become interested in discrimination, a key part of your research?
I became interested in discrimination as a graduate student in economics at Duke University. I wrote my dissertation, which formed the basis for my first book, The Economics of Sex Discrimination. This book developed an economic theory of sex discrimination based on spatial and other barriers that gives employers market power when hiring women. My subsequent research has investigated a variety of barriers in the workplace, including most recently, the use of account distributions and partnership alternatives to create racial and gender differences in pay among stockbrokers.
How did you become involved at the Fels Institute of Government as a Steering Committee member?
I was invited to work with the School of Public and Urban Policy, which occupied the Fels Institute, in the 1970s. I returned to become Faculty Director in 1998 when Fels had a change in leadership and, as I was Vice Provost for Graduate Education, the Provost asked me to take on this additional duty. I then served as Director of the Master’s in Government Administration, which would eventually become the MPA program. I chaired the steering committee subsequently and then became a member rather than chair. All of this experience has allowed me to watch Fels grow and thrive over the years.
As a leader in the Fels community, what makes Fels unique?
Fels is unique in the MPA community of universities for two reasons: (1) it is situated in a premier academic institution, whose classes are open to all Fels students; and (2) the program focuses on subnational government issues, a particularly complex part of government which is growing faster than national government and which presents unique challenges because constituents vote with their feet as well as their ballots.
What advice do you have for current Fels students?
Make use of this extremely rich academic environment. Don’t come in with blinders on, seeking only those activities or classes suited to your interests at entry. Rather, test a variety of interests to see where you can make your contribution. A Fels education is NOT to prepare you for your first job, but to prepare you for an entire career. Focus on thinking and analytics, not just institutional learning.