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 will increase the gender and racial diversity in economics, making a unique contribution to the national conversation in the following ways.

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

"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

"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

"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

"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

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

  • Topic: salary

Economics Collaboration of the Semester

Center for Indian Country Development Project

Isabel Pastoor headshot

Isabel Pastoor, '20

Kristine West headshot

Kristine West, PhD

The project started with a contract with the Center for Indian Country Development at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.

First, we’re studying historic labor force participation trends for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. We focus on how changes in the male/female labor force participation gap differ by race.

Second, we’re studying enumeration issues within the census, for instance, how does the definition of different variables change over time, and how might that affect Native populations specifically?

Third, we’re creating a database called the Tribal Experience Database (TED), harmonizing raw geographic and economic data from 1980 to the present into something easily accessible for researchers to look at the economic outcomes of indigenous populations by tribe. This is important because differences between tribes have historically been overlooked when economic research is conducted, causing distinct indigenous populations to be lumped together.

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

You should do economic research if you want a career in economics or public policy because it gives you practical experience others might not have. You get to see what being an economist is like firsthand. A big part of it is finding out what your research interests are; you might learn about research areas you never knew existed!

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

For my career, I want to earn a PhD in economics or applied economics and then lead economic research with a focus on gender. Working on this project has been so amazing because Kristine has let me take it in whatever direction I’m interested in and really own it. It’s improved my writing, presentation, critical thinking, and analysis skills so much. Before I started this project, I couldn’t use Stata at all. Now I’m really confident with my coding skills, and I feel like I can speak to them in job interviews. It’s also helped me meet people who will be good job connections. It’s taught me to meet deadlines for our stakeholders and present research for different audiences with varying levels of technical knowledge. This skill is really important in policy work!

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

It’s so important! Our economy is diverse, so it only makes sense to have a diverse population studying it. Right now, we primarily have white men running our economic systems. If we want to make our economic systems work better for women and people of color, we need to understand them first.

by Isabel Pastoor

Past MCDE Events

More on Diversity in the Field of Economics