Where are all the Female Economists?
“If you think about an economist, the first person you will think about is not going to be a woman; at least not for me. It is probably going to be a boring old man”, “Economists are seen as men with a black suit, middle-class men who have always had privileges”, “We need to break this stereotype”- These were the answers of some female A-level Economics students from an Inner-London state school, and they are right. Economics has traditionally been a male-dominated field. That is probably why if we think about some well-known economists the first names that would come to our mind will be men.
Pursuing an Economics degree seems intimidating in the media: you will not find many women in economics working at senior levels. There is a lack of female role models in the field and maybe this is one of the reasons not many women choose to study economics. For example, just 2 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics since its creation in 1969: Elinor Ostrom (2009) and Esther Duflo (2019).
Just over one-third of undergraduate economics students are women; why? One frequently explanation is the mathematical nature of the subjects; however, the share of women among math undergraduates exceeds that in economics. Another reason is the mistaken belief that economics is only about money and forecasting. Banking and finance are not the only paths you can follow. According to data from 1999 to 2016 of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, around 30 % of female economists work in the public sector, 20% in consulting and 13% in finance.
There is no single explanation, but even though students are not pursuing a degree in the field, a basic knowledge of economics is essential! Therefore, why study economics? To understand how the world works, what terms like “mortgage” mean and how to apply them in your life. Try to learn a little bit about it because you will realize how it relates to everything else in the world. “If you see more female economists, you will want to be like them” Break the stereotype and become a potential female economist role model!