Diversity in Economics

Wed Oct 23 08:24:00 UTC 2019

Increasing Diversity in Economics

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In October, the Royal Economic Society (RES) launched a new campaign to increase diversity in economics. The #DiscoverEconomics initiative aims to attract more women, minority students and students from state schools and colleges to study the subject at university. As a subject that is not taught in all schools, the three-year campaign aims to change perceptions of economics and what economists really do.

The first phase of the campaign will raise awareness of the problem, and work with universities and employers to increase information about routes into economics. The second phase will launch to 15-17 year olds from September 2020.

You can follow #DiscoverEconomics on Twitter.

The campaign is co-chaired by Professor Sarah Smith, Head of the School of Economics at the University of Bristol and Professor Arun Advani of the University of Warwick.

According to Professor Smith:

‘Economics – and economists – can sometimes suffer from an image problem. It’s really important as a profession that we reach out to schools and colleges and start talking about the great things that studying economics has to offer. We will only succeed in this if we work together – and we look forward to other organisations joining the campaign.’

Professor Advani adds:

‘State school and ethnic minority students are under-represented among economics undergraduates. By not studying economics, these students miss out on a degree that leads to high-paid future careers. But more fundamentally, the lack of diversity among economics students is a problem because economists – who occupy key policy roles in society – need to reflect the world that they are helping to shape.’

Professor Smith has written an article about economics and its gender problem in which she states:

'The lack of diversity in the economics student body matters. Economics students go on to be professional economists in governments, central banks, the private sector and NGOs; they pronounce on public policy and offer expert advice on decisions that affect millions. This makes it crucial who economists are, and who they represent.'

Professor Rachel Griffith, the first woman to be RES President since the early 1980s has just written ‘What is economics?’, a one-page summary published on the British Academy website.

Professor Griffith comments:

‘Attracting people from a wide diversity of backgrounds and outlooks into economics really matters – for the future of the discipline and for good policy-making. With this campaign, we will do all we can to engage the very best and brightest students.’

The Discover Economics campaign website will also provide you with much useful material with sections on what economics is, what economists do, and what studying economics involves.

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Colin Leith

Economics
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Colin Leith, Business and Economics subject advisor
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