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) 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 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. 

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

We are excited to announce that the MCDE recently received funding from the Women's Foundation of Minnesota to implement C-FEM, an innovative mentorship program that will connect female and non-binary/gender non-conforming economists at various stages in the economics education & career pipeline!

In C-FEM, mentorship teams will consist of one member 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.

For the first year of the program, we will recruit mentees from the Twin Cities. We will focus on recruiting girls/non-binary students and womxn of color, whose inclusion is desperately lacking in the economics field.

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

Data Fest

Data Fest is an event where students of all academic backgrounds are invited to work in groups to answer important questions in collaboration with community partners. This is a great opportunity for students to explore analyzing data and a chance to learn more R and Stata software coding in a hands-on environment with peers. Students are supported by six mentors which include professors, economics majors, and alumnae. 

This year, we partnered with Ramsey county to answer questions related to upward mobility and the following factors: early childhood, justice, affordability, wealth creation, and health. We are holding two Data Fest events and plan to have students share their findings with our community partners in May. 

For the first Data Fest event on February 25, more than 30 students attended. In groups, they carried out hands-on data analysis using census tract level data from the Opportunity Atlas. Students were then able to share their findings and potential policy implications with their peers. 

We will hold a second Data Fest event on Friday, May 6 from 3:30-7:30pm, and participants will be able 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 fill out this survey: Data Fest #2 Sign-Up!, OR contact

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

Below are some student quotes from reflections about their experiences in Data Fest 1:

 I am realizing that data can be really fun, and also really rewarding when the coding actually works. This is possibly changing the direction I want to go in after college which is super exciting! Plus, it was so nice to be at an event with so many cool people!

Data is fun…Learning to really read a regression and determine the influence of a P-Value provides a sense of accomplishment and pride. It felt like I was really doing something rather than just watching or looking at what other people had done. Actually getting your hands on the data rather than just reading what other people did with it, is so much more invigorating. I felt like a real economist. 

Students gathered around table reviewing data on a computer screen.

[After Data Fest], I now won’t go into anything with a closed mindset when I don’t understand or know how to do something because there is always a way of figuring things out in programming. Programming is a lot of trial and error and there are multiple different ways of figuring out how to do what I am trying to do. The skills I learned will help me in the future when it comes to jobs, internships, and classes that I will eventually take.

Working on coding together was fun, and active coding is something that a lot of workplaces do when a group is working on the same project. I’m glad I’ll have practiced it in the future

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 will lead 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 will provide research assistantships that study a range of 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. 

Research on Diversity at Every Stage of the Economics Pipeline

"Children’s Patience and School-Track Choices Several Years Later: Linking Experimental and Field Data"-  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 the way many economics courses frame the discipline down the line.
  • 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

"Bricks and Mortar vs. Computers and Modems: The Impacts of Enrollment in K-12 Virtual Schools" 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” 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?" 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

"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  

Economics Collaboration of the Semester

C-FEM Highschool Honors Project Mentorship 

Image of Michelle Cao

Michelle Cao '22

Image of Ashley Erceg

Ashley Erceg '16

This year Michelle Cao, current high school student, and Ashley Erceg, St. Kate's alumna and current doctoral student at the University of Nebraska, have been exploring how economics can inform women’s reproductive health policy. Their partnership started after Michelle reached out to Economics professor Dr. Caroline Krafft. Dr. Krafft introduced her to the C-FEM mentorship program and our MCDE team connected her with Ashley. If you are interested in joining a mentorship team please email! 

The following are excerpts from an interview of Michelle and Ashley regarding their experience. 

Interview with Michelle:

What is your research project analyzing?

My project will be analyzing the impact of the Affordable Care Act contraceptive mandate on general contraception trends and furthermore pregnancy rates in young women up to age 24. I am planning on using statistical analysis in order to examine a data sample from the IPUMS National Health Surveys. The results of my research will hopefully have significant implications on public health and future outcomes of women, regarding fertility, labor market decisions, etc.  

What would you say to a younger student interested in economic research?

I would definitely say to go for it; I was very apprehensive at first since the only experience I had with statistics was a high school class. Although I am still in the process of learning how to program, I have already gained valuable insights and experiences about how economics can be applied to the real world!

How do you think collaborating on this research project will help you in your career?

Gaining real research experience has definitely helped me solidify my interest in the career field of economics. Because I have attained the skill set required to collaborate with a mentor and conduct my own project, this will surely assist me in seeking research opportunities in university and beyond.

Why do you think it is important to have diverse voices in economics research?

I think it’s super important because although research is purely scientific, the authors still have a significant voice when choosing the research question, finding data, and writing the conclusion. Since the economy has so many moving parts, it’s necessary for diverse voices to examine these relevant issues.


Interview with Ashley:

Describe your experience as a mentor:

Working with Michelle has been a great experience. It’s been incredibly exciting to watch her develop as a researcher. When we started working together, Michelle had a laundry list of potential research topics. We were able to narrow down her interests to something that I think will make a meaningful contribution to our understanding of the Affordable Care Act.

What would you say to a younger student interested in economic research?

If you’re interested in economic research, talk to economists! Economists are passionate about their research, and most would be happy to speak with students. Reach out to your professor to learn more about what they’re working on. Don’t be afraid to email economists whose work you’re interested in learning more about! The Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics is another resource to help you learn more about economic research. They have guest speakers who talk about important topics, and many of these speakers would be happy to meet with students.

How do you think this mentorship opportunity has impacted your career?

I’ve enjoyed working as a mentor and sharing my passion about economics. Throughout my career, I’ve received mentorship from many other researchers and wouldn’t be where I am now without them. So, it’s been rewarding to provide mentorship to Michelle as she navigates the beginning stages of her career. Michelle is incredibly curious and asks great questions that often require me to think critically. I’ve become a better researcher through working with her. She’s definitely changed some of my research habits— she’s better at writing a literature review than I am! After working in this more formal mentorship capacity, I know that I will continue to mentor students throughout my career.

Why is it important to have diverse voices in economic research? 

Economics is fundamentally about people and the decisions that real people make every day.  It’s impossible for economists to produce great research without the collaboration of many perspectives from a diverse set of backgrounds

Past MCDE Events

Dr. Pavcnik's public lecture - October 3rd, 2022 

Gender Gaps and Social Norms - September 22nd, 2022

Program Evaluation and Design - April 27th, 2022

Graduate School Alumni Panel - April 21st, 2022

Impact of Contraceptive Access on High School Graduation - April 13th, 2022

Inclusive development, project evaluation, and the connection between micro and macro policies - April 5th, 2022

Black Lives Matter's Effect on Police Lethal Use-of-Force - March 15th, 2022

Collective Bargaining Rights, Policing, and Civilian Deaths - March 9th, 2022

Economics of Sex and Love - March 8th, 2022 

Stata Basics Workshop - February 18th, 2022 

The Impact of Equity Premiums on the Completion Outcomes of Minority Students - February 16, 2022

LinkedIn and Resume Building Workshop - February 3, 2022

Reparations and the Missing Debt Owed - November 17, 2021

Gender Disparities in Healthy Aging: A cross-national comparative study in the United States and South Korea - November 12, 2021

Rent Control Debate - October 26, 2021

The Effect of Racial Covenants on Modern Day Foreclosures: Evidence from Hennepin County - October 21, 2021

Queer-Nomics- June 28, 2021

Evaluation Capacity Building- May 05, 2021

Life After St. Kates: What are Skate's Alum doing with an Economics and Political Science degree?- April 19, 2021

Money Moves a financial literacy event-  March 03, 2021

Liberal arts education and environmental policy- a conversation with an Alumni- February 05, 2021

Water Quality Awareness And Breastfeeding: Evidence of Health Behavior Change In Bangladesh - January 25, 2021

The Economics of Race and Identity - December 1, 2020

What are the Economic benefits to Immigration? - November 10, 2020

Era for Virtual Schools - October 15, 2020

Building Credit as a Muslim American- September 15, 2020

Mapping Prejudice: Housing inequality in Ramsey county event- August 14, 2020

Brown bag undergraduate summer research- July 23, 2020

Economic Protest Event — June 29, 2020

Discussion of Poverty, Inc. with the Filmmaker — June 11, 2020

Socialism vs. Capitalism Virtual Debate — May 13, 2020

A Rising Mountain of Student Loan Debt Webinar — April 17, 2020 

More on Diversity in the Field of Economics