In the words of one of our participants, we “found the whole [Summit on Diversity in Economics] to be intense and cathartic (though slightly emotionally exhausting).”
The inaugural Summit for Diversity in Economics (September 28-29th, 2018) welcomed 130 graduate students and 30 scholars from over 40 institutions for workshops, presentations and panel discussions by leading economists. “We focused on two main topics: Discussing current shortcomings of the field, and coming up with actionable tools to fix them” says Emily Eisner, organizer and WEB co-president. “Students also had the chance to network and we could overhear some exciting new research ideas coming out of their conversations!”
before the summit
Before the Summit, we conducted a survey of our participants that shed light on how they feel about their departments and what they most wanted to get out of the Summit. In particular, most participants were at least “somewhat dissatisfied” with the level of diversity in their own home institutions and over a quarter were dissatisfied with the culture in their home institutions.
When asked what they most wanted to get out of the summit, a majority stated that they hoped to come away from the Summit with concrete tools they could use in their own departments to improve diversity and inclusion. Others hoped to make connections with other graduate students and economists who were engaged on the issues of diversity and inclusion.
At the summit
In order to meet our objectives of documenting and sharing resources for supporting underrepresented groups and building a stronger inter-departmental community, the Summit was structured around four main activities: keynotes by leading researchers in Economics, panel discussions on the state of the field, workshops where participants shared ideas, experiences and tools with each other, and a healthy serving of informal networking over food and drink. Overall, people were extremely satisfied with Summit in terms of the relevance of the content covered and the opportunity the summit provided to build community. We are most proud of the fact that almost 90% of participants reported feeling more equipped to take steps towards improving diversity in their own department than they did before the summit!
Invited speakers included Martha Olney of UC Berkeley, Shelly Lundberg of UC Santa Barbara, Trevon Logan of The Ohio State University, Lisa Cook of Michigan State University, Ebonya Washington of Yale University, Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato of Duke University, Pascaline Dupas of Stanford University, and newly minted San Francisco Federal Reserves President, Mary Daly. “[Mary Daly’s] motto to bring ourselves into our work, regardless of our gender or our differences, really resonated with our participants,” said Nina Roussille, Co-President. “Many of them shared with us how the summit gave them a sense of empowerment and inspiration to bring back these best practices for fostering a more inclusive environment.” The speakers’ talks set a tone of inclusion and empowerment at the Summit that was reflected in our post-summit survey. Additionally, they helped make people feel comfortable sharing their experiences throughout the Summit.
Areas for Improvement
While we received amazingly positive feedback overall, we are acutely aware of the ways that future Summits need to be improved. Most importantly, greater emphasis needs to be given to People of Color, the LGBTQ+ community, and other groups that face adversity in economics (international graduate students, first generation graduate students, low SES students, etc.). While it was our intention to be inclusive of these groups at the Summit, we should do better. Further, future iterations of the Summit should put even greater emphasis on developing actionable steps that the field and institutions can take to improve diversity.
We couldn’t be more thrilled with what we learned and all the amazing people we met and worked with throughout this whole process. The energy and positivity in the room was breathtaking at times and we are excited to see how this community grows!
If you couldn’t make it to the Summit but want to learn more, check us out on twitter (@CalEconWomen, #WEBDiversitySummit), look at the beautiful pictures of us from the Summit at the Summit Homepage, and feel free to email us with any comments, thoughts or questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).