Southeast Students Explore Importance of Women in Economics at Samford University Colloquium



From left are Southeast students Jordan Jackson, Erika Bone, Alex Meyer, Kyra Minder, Whitney Whiteside and Marion Mideva; and Dr. Natallia Gray, Southeast associate professor of economics.

Six female Southeast Missouri State University undergraduate economics students joined other female students of economics at the “Economics and Women” colloquium Oct. 18 at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

The students are members of Southeast’s Women in Economics organization and traveled to the colloquium with their faculty advisor Dr. Natallia Gray, associate professor of economics.

“The focus of the conference was on the role of women in the economy of the United States and how that role has changed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the role of women in the economies of developing nations,” Gray said.

The colloquium included discussion sessions on “Women’s Rights and Votes,” “Gender in Experimental Economics,” “Women in Economics and Occupational Choice” and “Women’s Role in Development Nations.” In addition, there was a film screening followed by a discussion of “Mama Rwanda,” a documentary about Rwandan women who lead economic recovery and become entrepreneurs out of necessity, balancing childcare and other duties after losing their husbands in Rwanda’s genocide. The keynote speakers were Dr. Julia Norgaard of Pepperdine University and Dr. Joy Buchanan of Samford University.

The Institute for Humane Studies helped coordinate the colloquium, and the Southeast group attended thanks to an Economics and History Teaching Grant that Gray received last year. Student attendees were given reading material to study prior to attending the discussion seminar.

Southeast student attendees were Marion Mideva of Nairobi, Kenya; and Jordan Jackson of Collierville, Tennessee, both economics majors; Erika Bone of Jacksonville, Illinois, a political science major with an economics minor; Alex Meyer of Chicago, Illinois, a double major in political science and economics; Whitney Whiteside of St. Charles, Missouri, a finance major with entrepreneurship, economics and business analytics minors; and Kyra Minder of Springfield, Illinois, a double major in economics and global cultures and languages with a minor in German.

Whitney Whiteside, left, and Alex Meyer participated in discussion sessions.

Minder, the president of Southeast’s “Women in Economics” group, said, “the ‘Economics and Women’ discussion colloquium gave me insight into the roles that women play in the economy. I was enlightened by all of the diverse viewpoints and thought-provoking ideas on the subjects. This was such a great opportunity and educational event for professional development.”

Gray said, “I hope students take away from this experience knowledge about what role women play in the economy and confidence to be able to insert their voices into the conversations surrounding economic and societal issues.”

Inspiration for Samford University’s colloquium began when Samford economics faculty met student members of Southeast’s Women in Economics organization and Dr. Gray at the inaugural Women in Economics Symposium in 2017 at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. The Samford faculty were so excited about Southeast’s Women in Economics group that they started their own student organization called “Finance and Economics Women” or FEW.  This acronym has significance, Gray said, because few female students major in economics and finance.

The Samford group invited Southeast’s group to join them at the 2019 seminar hosted on the Samford campus.

“To me, this means that my efforts as an advisor and the founder of the Southeast group can have a significant impact not only on Southeast students but also on students at other campuses as well,” said Gray.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2018), only 30% of graduates with economics degrees are women, a trend that has remained constant from 2008 to 2018.

“Women’s voice is important in economics to inform public policy on issues related to jobs, education, healthcare, childcare and pretty much everything else. If women don’t bring their voices to economics, decisions are going to be made without their input,” Gray said. “Women bring unique skills to the field of economics including their analytic abilities and a nurturing approach that translates into an ability to work together when it comes to designing solutions to economic problems or developing economies in their countries.”