Campus Organization Spotlight: Women in Economics

Just one year ago, at the University of Utah, the student group Women in Economics was formed to provide a space for women to connect, to network, and to form a community within the heavily male-dominated department of Economics. 

Nationally, 33% of Economics majors are women, but the University of Utah severely lags behind this statistic — only 18% of all Econ students at the U identify as women. In the state with the largest gender wage gap, making space to support women, encourage their studies, and fight underrepresentation is crucial for bridging the gap to a more equal society. 

Recently, I spoke with Allyson Berri, the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus Utah and the President of Women in Economics, to learn more about her experience as a member and now as a leader of this student organization. Berri said, “I joined Women in Economics last year when I was a junior. The club was still in its first year. It’s been a great space to bond with other women in my program and share stories about what it’s like to be the only girl in your class.” As Berri told me about her experiences in the Economics department, I was surprised by the extreme underrepresentation of women in this field. “When I took Feminist Economics at the U my junior year, we learned about a study conducted by an economist named Alice Wu, then a college senior at UC Berkeley. Wu used a computer algorithm to analyze words being used to describe men and women seeking academic jobs on a popular job market forum, Economic Job Market Rumors (EJMR). The words used most frequently to describe men included ‘mathematician’ and ‘goals.’ In sharp contrast, the words most frequently used to describe women included ‘hotter’ and ‘anal.’ So, in sum, though undergraduate Economics programs are heavily male-dominated, on the graduate level, gender-based disparity in Economics worsens.” 

With the clear underrepresentation of female students studying Economics at the U, it is important to have a space where they can feel empowered in their studies. Not only is it essential to have a place to belong, but it is necessary to have a safe space to discuss the realities of this minority demographic.

“Women in Economics provides women in the heavily male-dominated Economics major a place where they can feel included in their program. Female Economics majors often find themselves taking classes in their major where they are one of just a few women in the room. At a university with a large commuter population, it's important that students at the U create communities on campus. Through Women in Economics, women can find a community where they can do both — build a professional network and connect with fellow female Economics majors,” Berri said. 

Currently, Women in Economics is looking to recruit women and minority gender students who are studying Economics for either their major or minor. But, you don’t have to be directly studying Economics to join. Students with other degree backgrounds who are especially passionate about Economics can also join — for example, women and minority gender students who are considering law school and might add Economics classes to their course load are encouraged to join.

Members of Women in Economics are able to participate in both bonding activities that foster a sense of community and networking events with other women working in the field of Economics. Events that Women in Economics have hosted have included a social at Ugurt, a screening of the documentary RBG, and panel discussions with recent Utah graduates. 

As president of Women in Economics, Berri aims to create a fulfilling club that helps members feel supported and prepared for life after their undergraduate careers: “My number one goal as president is to create more recognition for us on campus this year. I also want to make sure we’re creating a club where people feel like they’re getting what they want out of their membership. For example, if our members want to do more bonding events and fun activities, we’ll plan on that. If they want more exposure to professional opportunities, we’ll gear the club that way. I hope that this truly becomes the kind of community that the women in my major are looking for — whatever that may look like.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Women in Economics or want to become a member, follow them on Instagram or apply to become a member here.

 

*I own all photos featured in this article*