Six female Southeast Missouri State University economics students joined other undergraduate female students of economics at the Second Annual Women in Economics Symposium Feb. 28 at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
The symposium offered opportunities to review research and data on women in economics and to hear from women in various career fields who were economics majors and leaders in the economics industry.
“I hope the students gained a good understanding of career paths and job opportunities open to economic majors and learned there are a lot more women in the profession who have done amazing and inspiring things,” said Dr. Natallia Gray, assistant professor of economics in the Harrison College of Business and Computing and who led the Southeast student group.
During a pre-conference workshop, the students learned how to use the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) analysis tool which allows students to analyze real-time economic data, including the Consumer Price Index, GDP, unemployment, inflation, imports, exports and more.
“The workshop was limited to 20 attendees nationwide, and I am proud to say that SEMO students were offered eight of those seats,” Gray said.
Southeast student participants were Marion Mideva of Nairobi, Kenya; Valeriia Andreieva of Cherkasy, Ukraine; and Kyra Minder of Springfield, Illinois, all economics majors; Kelly Genesio of Du Quoin, Illinois, a management major with an economics minor; Rebecca Hursh of Bonney Lake, Washington, an accounting major with an economics minor; and Madison Triplett of Taylorville, Illinois, a finance major.
Accompanying the students were Dr. Alberto Davila, dean of the Harrison College of Business and Computing; Dr. Chen Wu, assistant professor of economics; Dr. Yaskewich, associate professor of economics and chair of the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance; and Gray, who founded the SEMO Women in Economics student organization in 2016. The organization currently has 10 female economics majors and 11 minors as members.
Featured symposium speakers included Loretta Mester, president and chief executive officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland; Amanda Bayer, professor of economics at Swarthmore College and a leading research on the topic of diversity in economics; and Kate Warne, principal and investment strategist at Edward Jones. Gray said Bayer encouraged students to be confident in themselves, believe in themselves and to realize their uniqueness is also their strength.
“Economics has a gender imbalance. Our female students need female role models. People tend to look up to people who are like them. I believe that mentoring is an important way to address the gender disbalance,” Gray said. “Mentoring is important, because if you don’t ever meet anyone like yourself in a position you want to eventually hold, it is hard to imagine yourself in that position. The Symposium provided an opportunity to meet successful women from the industry and learn about their career path and how an economics degree helped advance their career.”
Gray says economics is the foundation of all other business disciplines.
“The beauty of economics is that it gives students a framework to analyze big-picture problems and their effect on all the participants of the economy — consumers, producers and government,” she said. “This framework has wide applications.”
Additionally, economics majors not only have excellent critical thinking, but also analytical and data analysis skills, which enable them to get jobs in a wide range of businesses, including banking, real estate, investment, insurance, consulting, and research firms, and with government entities.
Washington, D.C, is the largest employer of economists, she said. Economics students are especially attractive to non-profit organizations and think-tanks since they often conduct research on policy-related issues — healthcare, the environment, urban development, poverty and others.
“Economics affects public policy,” she said.
Next year’s symposium will be held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Ohio.