MN Center for Diversity in Economics logo with tagline More voices. More possibilities.
About the MCDE

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).

The Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics (MCDE) ensures 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 educational and career pipeline stage.

The MCDE was recently featured on J-PAL's three part Diversifying Economics blog post.

Read all about it here: Diversifying economics, part three: The Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics on its history, impact, and pursuit of collaboration

MCDE Initiatives

JaKayla and Sabrina smile in business suits
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 leads in efforts to implement this sort of outreach in Minnesota.

Safia and Alyssa in front of an economics research paper
Engage women and underrepresented students in research.

Collaborative undergraduate research is a best practice for recruiting and retaining underrepresented students to economics. The MCDE provides research assistantships that study various issues of interest to the faculty and students who work with the Center.

Kristine West teaches in a classroom
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. 

Alycia, Morgan and Vachel collaborative in an office
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. 

MCDE Research

Virtually Nonexistent: Gender and Racial Representation in Online K-12 Economics Lessons


Women and Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are underrepresented in economics.
Among the factors contributing to the underrepresentation of these groups, past research has
demonstrated a lack of diversity in introductory economics textbooks. We extend this research on
representation to examples in economics lesson plans designed for K-12 audiences. We find that
women and BIPOC examples are underrepresented. When present they are less likely to be
economists, policymakers, or businesspeople. We also explore how author demographics predict
diversity of examples. Authors and teams that include women are more likely to use female

Relevance, Belonging, and Growth Mindsets in Economics: Differences across Institution Types


The underrepresentation of minority students and women in economics exceeds that of STEM
fields and, while STEM fields have improved representation over time, economics has made less
progress. Past research has established that under-represented minority and women students have
significantly lower relevance, belonging, and growth mindset (RBG) in predominantly white
institutions (PWIs) and co-ed settings (Bayer, Bhanot, Bronchetti, & O’Connell, 2020). Lower
RBG is linked to worse grades and lower persistence in economics majors. There has been no
research to date on RBG at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) or women’s colleges nor on
whether these identity-affirming institutions may foster RBG and persistence. This paper
investigates the role RBG plays as a potential barrier or lever for change across different
institutional settings. We find that minority students had significantly lower overall RBG ratings,
as well as for each dimension of RBG. Female students did not have a significant difference in
overall RBG compared to male/non-binary students. Women did, however, have significantly
higher relevance than their counterparts. These differences may be because students at women’s
colleges, which we over-sampled, have significantly higher relevance than co-ed colleges. There
is also some evidence that women have lower economics growth mindset, but that women’s
colleges are associated with higher growth mindset in economics. 

The words C-Fem Cross-Generational Female Economist Mentorship Program written on a purple background. An image of various women are drawn in one corner and the MCDE logo is in the other.
C-FEM: Cross Generational Female Economist Mentorship Program

An innovative mentorship program that connects female and non-binary/gender non-conforming economists at various stages in the economics education & career pipeline! Mentorship teams consist of members from each of the following groups: High school students, Introductory Economics college students, Economics majors, and Alumni. C-FEM participants will explore different economics topics and career options & will earn a certificate for each subject they master, drawing on their mentorship teams for support along the way.

We focus on recruiting girls/non-binary students and women of color, whose inclusion is desperately lacking in economics.

Interested in Becoming a Mentor or a Mentee : Sign up here!

Photo of Michelle Cao
Mentorship Collaboration Highlight

Michelle Cao (Student; pictured left), Ashley Erceg (Mentor)

How Economics Can Inform Women’s Reproductive Health Policy

MCDE Events

More students gathered around table reviewing data on a computer screen.
Data Fest

Data Fest is a modeled “Hack-a-thon” event that invites students from all academic backgrounds to work in groups to answer important socio-economic questions in collaboration with community partners. In past events, we’ve partnered with community organizations such as the Center for Indian Country Development and Ramsey County, using datasets from IPUMS and Opportunity Atlas. This is an opportunity for students to explore analyzing data and a chance to learn more about R and Stata software coding in a hands-on environment with peers.

We hold two separate Data Fest events in February and May, giving participants the opportunity to use more of the skills they have gained in their courses. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are welcome to join us! If you are interested, please look forward to more information coming in February. 

Past Events

More on Diversity in the Field of Economics

K-10 Education

"Children’s Patience and School-Track Choices Several Years Later: Linking Experimental and Field Data" by  Silvia Angerer,  Jana Bolvashenkova, Daniela Glätzle-Rützler, Philipp Lergetporer, and Matthias Sutter

  • Population of focus: Children
  • Topic: School track choice

"Female teachers’ math anxiety affects girls’ math achievement" by Sian L. Beilock, Elizabeth A. Gunderson, Gerardo Ramirez, and Susan C. Levine; PNAS, 2010

  • Main takeaway: Math fear is contagious, and math is how many economics courses frame the discipline.
  • Population of focus: women
  • Topic: math anxiety

"The Hispanic-White achievement gap in math and reading in the elementary grades" by Reardon, Sean F., and Claudia Galindo, American Educational Research Journal, 2009

  • Population of focus: Hispanics
  • Topic: Test-score gap

"K–12 Achievement Gap Is a National Problem" by Craig, Will, and Scott, Tom, University of Minnesota: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, 2018

  • Population of focus: Black students
  • Topic: Test-score gap

High School

"Bricks and Mortar vs. Computers and Modems: The Impacts of Enrollment in K-12 Virtual Schools" by Carycruz Bueno; SSRN, 2020

  • Population of focus: High school students
  • Topic: Virtual schooling

The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports” by Lochner, L., & Moretti, E; American Economic Review, 2004.

  • Population of focus: High school students 
  • Topic: Education and criminal system

"Do School Counselors Exhibit Bias in Recommending Students for Advanced Coursework?" by Dania V. Francis, Angela C. M. de Oliveira, & Dimmitt Carey; The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2019

  • Population of focus: Black female students
  • Topic: Race & gender bias

"Gender and overconfidence: are girls really overconfident?" L. Dahlbom, A. Jakobsson, & A. Kotsadam; Applied Economics Letters, 2011

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: Confidence

“High School Role Models and Minority College Achievement” Scott Delhommer (Job Market Paper)

  • Population of focus: URM, Hispanic, Asian
  • Topic: Role Model effect on college outcomes

“Representations of Men and Women in Introductory Economics Textbooks” B. Stevenson & H. Zlotnik; AEA Papers and Proceedings, 2018

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: gender representation


"Promoting Female Interest in Economics: Limits to Nudges"Todd Pugatch, Elizabeth Schroeder; Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), 2020

  • Population of focus: women
  • Topic: Major

"Does Economics Make You Sexist?" Valentina A. Paredes, M. Daniele Paserman, Francisco Pino; NBER Working Paper Series, 2020

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: Sexism

"A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom" Robert W. Fairlie, Florian Hoffmann, Philip Oreopoulos; NBER Working Paper Series

  • Population of focus: Underrepresented Minorities (URM)
  • Topic: Role model effect

"The unequal distribution of economic education: A report on the race, ethnicity, and gender of economics majors at U.S. colleges and universities." Amanda Bayer, David W. Wilcox; The Journal of Economic Education, 2019

  • Population of focus: URM, gender
  • Topic: Major

"Gender Differences in the Choice of Major: The Importance of Female Role Models" Catherine Porter and Danila Serra; American Economic Journal, 2019

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: Major

"Does Simple Information Provision Lead to More Diverse Classrooms? Evidence from a Field Experiment on Undergraduate Economics." Amanda Bayer, Syon P. Bhanot, Fernando Lozano; AEA Papers and Proceedings, 2019

  • Population of focus: Women, URM
  • Topic: Information

"Diversity in the Economics Profession: A New Attack on an Old Problem", Amanda Bayer and Cecilia Elena Rouse; Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2016

  • Population of focus: Women, URM

Graduate School

"African Americans in Economics at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Since the Kerner Commission Report of 1968", Charles L. Betsey; The Review of Black Political Economy, 2019

  • Population of focus: African Americans

"Variation in Women’s Success across PhD Programs in Economics." Leah Boustan, Andrew Langan; Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2019

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: Qualitative evidence of women's success

"Toward the Next Generation of Scholarship: Challenges and Opportunities for Full Participation in PhD Training in Economics," Thomas D. Jeitschko; AEA Papers and Proceedings, 2019


"How the Disappearance of Unionized Jobs Obliterated an Emergent Black Middle Class" William Lazonick, Philip Moss, and Joshua Weitz; Institute for New Economic Thinking, 2020

  • Population of focus: African American
  • Topic: Employment 

"The implications of U.S. gender and racial disparities in income and wealth inequality at each stage of the innovation process" Lisa Cook and  Jan Gerson; equitable growth, 2019

  • Population of focus: People of color
  • Topics: Economic inequality

"How You Can Work to Increase the Presence and Improve the Experience of Black, Latinx, and Native American People in the Economics ProfessionAmanda Bayer, Gary A. Hoover, and Ebonya Washington; Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2020

  • Population of focus: People of color
  • Topics: Academia

"Deep Rooted Structural ‘Violence’ Keeps Black Women Out of Economics" Maryann Reid; Forbes

  • Population of focus: Black women
  • Topic: Discrimination, structural violence

"'It was a Mistake for Me to Choose This Field'" Lisa D. Cook and Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, New York Times

  • Population of focus: Black women
  • Topic: Discrimination

"Gender Stereotyping in Academia: Evidence from Economics Job Market Rumors Forum" Alice H. Wu, 2017

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: Stereotyping

"Work–life policies and female faculty representation in US doctoral‐granting economics departments" Zarrina H. Juraqulova, Jill J. McCluskey, Ron C. Mittelhammer.; Industrial Relations Journal, 2019

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: Work-life policies

"In the service of social equity: Leveraging the experiences of African American women professors" Najmah Thomas; Journal of Public Affairs Education, 2019

  • Population of focus: African American women
  • Topic: Academia

"The Problem of the 21st Century: Economics Faculty and the Color Line" Price, Gregory N; Journal of Socio-Economics, 2009

  • Population of focus: Black economists

"Student evaluations of teaching (mostly) do not measure teaching effectiveness" Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni, and Philip B. Stark; Science Open Research, 2016

  • Population of focus: Women
  • Topic: Bias in student surveys, academia

"The Kerner Commission Report: Did It Incentivize or Cause an Increase in the Production and Hiring of Black PhD Economists in Academia?" Gregory N. Price; The Review of Black Political Economy, 2019

  • Population of focus: Black economists
  • Topic: Academia

"Maynard's Notes" The LGBTQ Economics Working Group; Newsletter of the American Economic Association

  • Population of focus: LGBTQIA+

"A Guide and Advice for Economists on the U.S. Junior Academic Job Market" John Cawley; IZA Institute of Labor Economics, 2016

  • Topic: Academia

"Sociological Perspectives on Racial Discrimination" Mario L. Small and Devah Pager; The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2020

  • Topic: Racial discrimination, institutional discrimination

"Why it Pays to Major in Economics" Thomas Carroll, Djeto Assane, and Jared Busker; The Journal of Economic Education, 2014

  • Topic: Salary

"How Women saved Agricultural Economics" Susan Offutt and Jill McCluskey; Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 2021

  • Population of Focus: Women
  • Topic: Agriculture 

"Underrepresentation of Developing Country Researchers in Development Research" Verónica Amarante, Ronelle Burger, Grieve Chelwa, John Cockburn, Ana Kassouf, Andrew McKay & Julieta Zurbrigg; Applied Economics Letters, 2021

  • Population of Focus: Researchers
  • Topic: Development Studies