The field of economics suffers from an underrepresentation of women and minorities that exceeds the more widely publicized underrepresentation in STEM fields. In Minnesota, 31% of economics students are women and 12% are U.S.-born people of color (only 4% are U.S.-born women of color).
Even more concerning, while STEM fields have seen improvement in representation over time, economics has not (Bayer & Rouse 2016, CSWEP 2018).
About the MCDE
The Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics (MCDE) exists to ensure that people of all backgrounds lead and influence economic research and decision-making. The MCDE promotes and supports gender and racial diversity in economics at every stage of the educational and career pipeline.
The MCDE will increase the gender and racial diversity in economics, making a unique contribution to the national conversation in the following ways:
Design, implement, and study interventions targeted at women ages 16–20.
Recent research out of Swarthmore (Bayer, Bhanot & Lozano 2018) shows that low-cost information/email nudges can make a big difference in attracting and retaining women to the field of economics. The MCDE will lead efforts to implement this sort of outreach in Minnesota.
Engage women and underrepresented students in research.
Collaborative undergraduate research is a best practice for recruiting and retaining underrepresented students to economics. The MCDE will provide research assistantships that study a range of issues of interest to the faculty and students who work with the Center.
Target teacher professional development.
Research shows that teachers pass math anxiety to their students akin to passing a virus. This relationship is particularly strong for female teachers and female students (Beilock, Gunderson, Ramirez & Levine 2010, Ramirez 2018). The same mechanism is likely at work in economics. K-12 teachers need to feel confident in their economic and personal finance knowledge and the Minnesota Council on Economic Education (with whom the MCDE is affiliated) is the only organization in the state focused on this key mechanism.
Forge partnerships with local/regional stakeholders.
The MCDE connects a range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors who are working to improve representation in economics and personal finance. By promoting opportunities to network and share across groups, the MCDE works to ensure that Minnesota’s students and teachers have access to the best possible set of resources.