From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
A number of studies have been conducted demonstrating that introductory economics courses are highly important to the attractions and retention of underrepresented students in the field of economics. A 1992 article by Jane Horvath, Barbara Beaudin, and Sheila Wright showed that the likelihood that a student persists in economics can is directly related to how they do in their introductory class and that the effects differ by gender. For both genders, doing well in an introductory class predicted further study of economics, but this effect was greater for women. That is, women who got lower grades were less likely to persist than men who got similarly low grades. This study was consistent with other studies which find that females require "more concrete symbols of success" to encourage persistence in an academic discipline. For the full article, click here.
Many studies also provide solutions to augment introductory economics courses so that the classroom environment is more comfortable for underrepresented students. For example, increasing the diversity of teachers teaching introductory courses can encourage underrepresented minorities. A 2004 paper on the effects of same-sex professors as role models  found that only about 1/3 of professors teaching introductory courses in any discipline were female.
-(Ferber) More information concerning the lives of underrepresented students should be incorporated.