Updated: Sept. 27, 2019 at 11:23 a.m.
Five female students launched a first-of-its-kind student group for women interested in economics earlier this month.
GW Women in Economics will work to build community among women who want to study economics and help members find opportunities for academic and professional development, members said. Students involved with the organization said they want to encourage women to study economics – a field of study they have found is often dominated by men – with resources like a mentorship program and tutoring.
Senior Alexandra Dobre, the founder and president of the group, said she was inspired to form the group after reading an American Economic Association research paper that analyzed the ratio of male to female students studying economics. Researchers found that three male students study economics for every female student interested in the field.
“I just found myself very immersed in economics, not only as a subject matter, but also as a profession that I’m really interested in, and that’s kind of where I learned more about the status of women,” Dobre said.
She said the group registered with the Center for Student Engagement on Sept. 4 and will host a general information session on Tuesday.
Dobre said laying out possible career paths for women in economics-related fields will incentivize more women to continue studying the subject. Members will organize events like coffee hours, professional development workshops and a mentorship program with female alumni in the field.
The organization will also establish an internship database and host a panel featuring female faculty who can share their experiences working in economics, Dobre said.
“A really big part of this effort is showing students people who look like them,” Dobre said. “It’s not just men, it’s not just white professors, it’s also underrepresented minorities, and I think that is really important.”
Senior Brooke Roberts, the group’s director of membership, said when she first enrolled in economics classes, she was unsure of what careers she could pursue after graduation. She said the University only provided information about “traditional” career paths involving economics, like consulting or research, but she had to seek out professors or professionals in the District to talk about potential careers outside of those topics.
Roberts said hosting a faculty panel and reaching out to different female experts in D.C. allows members of the group to learn more about what students can do the field.
“I heard of finance, consulting, but other than that, I really didn’t know what an econ major could do for me,” Roberts said. “I’ve really just had to talk to other women in the field and been like, ‘OK, what have you done with this major? Where are you right now? And how did that help you get there?’”
Roberts said the group currently consists of five members who all serve on the executive board. She said about 60 students have expressed interest in joining the group by signing up for the organization’s email list at the student organization fair earlier this month, and more more 70 people have liked the organization’s Facebook as of Wednesday.
“Ultimately, it’s to promote and encourage women at GW, to not only pursue an economics degree or an economics study, but to also know that they do have a future if that’s what they want to do,” she said.
Senior Eva Raczkowski, the group’s vice president, said being one of only two women at her job where she analyzes data can be off-putting because she works in a male-dominated environment. Raczkowski said GW Women in Economics will empower women who are not only majoring or minoring in economics but also for those whose studies – like political science or international affairs – intersect with the field.
“Even if you don’t decide to do economics, it’s just a supportive network of women who are passionate about wanting to help other women,” she said.
This post was updated to clarify the following:
This post has been updated to clarify a quote from Eva Raczkowski.