A Podcast Series from the St. Louis Fed's
Timely Topics audio channel
Less than a third of the students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in economics are women. That percentage of women further dwindles as education levels rise and as careers in economics advance.
In “Women in Economics,” we highlight the careers of women on the narrow end of those statistics: those who have become prominent economists in this global profession.
Amanda Bayer is optimistic about increasing diversity in the field of economics. “There’s a lot of attention being given to these issues from various points within the profession now, including at the highest levels and the leadership of the AEA, the American Economic Association, but also coming from the Federal Reserve System,” Bayer says in this Women in Economics podcast. “There is enough action coming from enough quarters that we have the potential to change the culture of our profession.” More about this episode »
“Economics is relevant and it's important, and it's much too important to be left to one segment of the population. And historically, the segment has been white privileged males,” says David Wilcox, then-director of the research and statistics division of the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors. He talks about his research on the unequal distribution of economic education, the need to change econ classrooms and how it is the responsibility of every member of the economics profession to work toward diversifying the field. More about this episode »
“People had a hard time taking me seriously, because I'm sure they didn't know any African-Americans who were economists,” says Lisa Cook, associate professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University. She talks about discovering economics while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, how she overcame biases she faced as a woman and as an African-American, and her research showing GDP could be higher if more women and African-Americans were involved at the beginning of the innovative process. More about this episode »
“I come from a family of economists. So, of course, I didn’t want to go into economics,” says Kate Warne, a principal and investment strategist at Edward Jones. She talks about why we need women in finance, policy and other fields related to economics. More about this episode »
“I never even considered taking an economics class, because I thought it was business. I thought it was about making money,” says Louise Sheiner, the Robert S. Kerr senior fellow in economic studies and policy director for the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution. She talks about how she stumbled into economics after studying biology, her work in health economics and why she thinks high school debate could spark girls’ interest in econ. More about this episode »
“It's still a very important challenge to get more women and more minorities into the economics profession,” says Lael Brainard, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. She talks about women in economics at the international level, her time as the U.S. representative to the G20, her focus on financial stability and more. More about this episode »
View photos of Brainard's visit to the St. Louis Fed, April 3, 2019.
“There were times when you were the only woman in the room, and you had to bring your self-confidence, your belief in yourself, and the desire for excellence in your pursuits,” says Una Osili, associate dean and professor at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She talks about the intersection of economics and philanthropy, the state of women in economics internationally and the need for more people of color in the field. More about this episode »
“I think students need to be doing economics, so it’s not me telling them stories or showing them graphs,” says Gail Heyne Hafer, an economics professor at St. Louis Community College-Meramec and author of two children’s books about economics. She shares her stories of how students and teaching have changed during her 30 years of teaching economics. More about this episode »
“I may be dyslexic and I can't read very well. I flip numbers, but I can do calculus in my head,” says Diane Swonk, chief economist and managing director at accounting firm Grant Thornton, as she discusses how her learning disability became a strength. She also discusses how growing up during the economic “demise” of Detroit in the 1970s and 1980s helped show her how economics could have made a difference. More about this episode »
“There are a growing number of communities within economics for young women who may feel isolated or questioning whether or not this is a path that they want to pursue,” says Fenaba Addo, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a visiting scholar at the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability. She talks about finding her voice as the only black woman in most of her economics courses on her way to her bachelor’s and graduate degrees. More about this episode »
“We are identified as women in the field, and yet, we really want to be known as good in the field regardless of whether we’re a woman or a man,” says Loretta Mester, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. She talks about being a leader in the male-dominated field of economics, her love of math and how she “lucked into economics.” More about this episode »
“We need to fix the issue of girls thinking that they cannot study something with math,” says Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria, a research economist at the St. Louis Fed. She talks about the economic theory of matching and how it applies to finding a spouse or partner, why we need more women in macroeconomics and how we should encourage girls to pursue economics and other fields involving math. More about this episode »
“I firmly believe that there is more ‘we’ and less ‘me’ among women, which leads to productive teamsmanship and the nurturing of each other and the next generation of economists, whether male or female,” says Susan Feigenbaum. Feigenbaum is a curators’ distinguished teaching professor in the department of economics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. More about this episode »
“Maybe we can do better than we have,” on diversity in economics, says Claudia Sahm, the section chief for consumer and community development at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Despite groups and newsletters dedicated to women, minorities and the LGBT community, Sahm said there is room for improvement in the field. More about this episode »
“I realized that keeping your head down and working hard was not going to get you that far, because you need to get recognized for that,” says Ellen Zentner, chief economist at Morgan Stanley. This “aha” moment led Zentner to actively manage her career, and the result was advancement and success. Zentner went from the University of Colorado to the state of Texas and finally to Wall Street.
More about this episode »
“There’s no way that I would have been able to find my way without some help,” says Mary Daly. She shares her story of how she went from high school dropout to research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Daly credits a counselor, a professor, and even former Fed chair Janet Yellen for aiding in her success. More about this episode »
This podcast series is part of the St. Louis Fed's Timely Topics audio channel.