WHAT: Economics is one of the most popular majors at Haverford, and attracts students from a broad range of backgrounds. However, much of the discipline remains dominated by men, and women, non-binary people, and students with other marginalized identities often feel unsupported by their peers. (Indeed a 2018 report from the American Economics Association showed that the share of women entering the professional pipeline in the field had barely changed since 1993 at only 32 percent.) According to co-founder Maya Ahmed ’20, Womxn in Econ aims to “provide a support network for all womxn in the department, help first-years and sophomores learn about how economics is applicable to diverse paths, and provide a resource to the Haverford community about inclusion in economics more generally.”
The economics department has been very supportive of the group, with Assistant Professor Carola Binder hosting a brunch for womxn in the department at the beginning of the semester. Said co-founder Wanyi Yang ’20, “I have gotten emails from almost all of the professors in the department, forwarding to me opportunities in the area that have to do with economics, monetary policy, or professional development for womxn. That level of support really shows that the department is willing to start the conversation to address not only gender, but other forms of inequality in economics.”
WHO: Ahmed and Yang started the club last year, and joined with leadership squad Maura Herbertson ’21, Ananya Prakash ’21, Lynnet Odhiambo ’19, and Batia Katz ’19. “During our sophomore year, said Ahmed, “we felt strongly that the Haverford economics community would benefit from an organization that emphasized diversity and inclusion.”
WHEN: The club hosts a variety of events focused on community building and intentional conversation throughout the semester. They recently hosted a baking social in the VCAM kitchen and are looking forward to an upcoming alumni panel. The impacts of Womxn in Econ reach beyond meetings. “Through this club, I’ve gotten to become friends with many amazing womxn in the department. I’ve gained confidence as an econ major and am thrilled to have a network of womxn who can support me in my interests,” said Ahmed.
“We made a ‘Survival Guide’ for next semester’s courses and distributed that to our mailing list, with some important tips to keep in mind when you choose economics courses and contact info of upper-class economics majors you can reach out to about a specific course. Our members have found this resource really helpful and have given us positive feedback,” said Yang. “We have also organized a greet-and-meet with the economics professors in the beginning of the year, so first-years and sophomores can really get to know the department and the professors when they consider an economics major.”
DID YOU KNOW? The spelling of “womxn” is an intentional act made to demonstrate the commitment to the inclusion of non-binary and genderqueer economics scholars in this club.
GET INVOLVED: Womxn in Econ will host an alumni panel on Sunday, April 7, from 1–3 p.m.in the Multicultural Center in Stokes Hall. All members of the Haverford community are invited to hear from three Haverford economics alumni about their experiences as womxn in the field. Diana Schoder ’17 (a research associate in global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations), Christine Seewagen ’06 (a provider performance manager at Independence Blue Cross), and Christine Hwang ’11 (director of organization effectiveness at MAC Cosmetics) will return to campus for the event.
“Facilitating this interpersonal interaction, I think, is very important for dissolving stereotypes,” said Yang. “Of course, I realize that gender stereotypes won’t go away without the input of male counterparts. I’d like to ask male economics students to also think about what diversity and inclusion looks like in economics-related fields, and Womxn in Econ will plan more opportunities to facilitate discussions like this in the future.”
Photo of the Womxn in Econ-sponsored baking social in the VCAM kitchen by Wanyi Yang ’20.