Building Mentorships and Camaraderie in Economics

June 09, 2022
Four women appear in separate quadrants

From left, (top row): Ellen McGrattan and Kathleen McKiernan; (bottom row) Emily Moschini and Ming Xu

Kathleen McKiernan, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University; Emily Moschini, assistant professor at the College of William and Mary; and Ming Xu, assistant professor at Queen’s University, are young economics professors, all making an impact in the profession. What else do these three women share in common? Attendance at the University of Minnesota and mentorship with Ellen McGrattan.

McGrattan, who also spent much of her career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, is a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota, where McKiernan, Moschini and Xu studied in the doctoral program.

In a 2021 Women in Economics Podcast Series episode, the three Minnesota alumnae pointed to collaboration as a key aspect of McGrattan’s mentorship.

“Ellen has a wonderful quality that when she talks about her research, she makes you want to do that well yourself,” McKiernan pointed out. “And having that push really, I think, helped all of us ... to work together to answer new questions.”

The relationships they built at Minnesota have extended beyond their time in graduate school. Moschini and Xu noted that they continue to collaborate; both are working together on research projects that look at the long-term impact of student loans.

During the podcast, McGrattan also talked about the importance of speaking to young women about economics. One specific audience she had in mind is middle school girls, when they’ll have a chance to start learning mathematics needed for such a career.

“I think if we get the word to younger girls in, again, middle school before they get into high school and tell them what a great gig this is, how fun it is, maybe we can change our numbers,” she said. “I think more people should become economists; it’s really fun and half the population is women, so let’s get more in.”

In this episode, the four economists talked about their research interests, what got them interested in economics and how the #MeToo movement has affected the profession.

This blog offers relevant commentary, analysis, research and data from our economists and other St. Louis Fed experts. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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