Participation data

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According to the most recent data, just over 10 percent of full professors in Ph.D. granting Economics departments are women and only 3 percent are African American or Hispanic. Disproportionate participation rates continue in the current undergraduate population as well; about one-third of undergraduate economics majors are women, and about 10 percent are students of color. These participation rates are lower than those typically observed in science and engineering.


The lower participation rates of women and ethnic/racial minorities in Economics is a problem at all levels of education, but is more pervasive at higher levels of education. For example, though women constituted approximately 30% of undergraduates degrees as of 2009, they compromise only 10 percent of full professors in Ph.D. granting Economics departments, as previously mentioned. This indicates a "leak" along these women's academic pipeline. The academic pipeline is a metaphor for the procession of students from high school graduates to the end point in academia, tenured professorships. Originally coined to describe the dearth of women in STEM fields, this metaphor is now used more universally to describe how women and members of minority groups 'leak' out of the pipeline (i.e., leave academia for non-academic pursuits) earlier than men or Caucasian individuals respectively.


More worrying than the issue of a leaky pipeline, however, is the low participation rate at the undergraduate level of women and minorities in Economics. A recent report by the AEA's Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession describes this problem well: "...the underrepresentation of Blacks and Hispanics among econ Ph.D.s relates to their underrepresentation among econ undergraduates, and not necessarily from a lack of interest of minority econ majors in pursuing a Ph.D" (Mora, 2012). Without encouraging higher interest at the undergraduate level, attempts to increase the participation rates of women and minorities at higher levels are unlikely to have much effect.


The following sections present patterns of participation for members of various groups at various stages in the field of Economics.


For more information, see

  • 2011 Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession: [1]
  • Report on the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession, December 2011: [2]
  • Mora, M.T. (2012) Racial and Ethnic Differences among Economics Baccalaureates. The Minority Report: AEA. 1, 9-11

[3]