Economics Needs To Do More Than Attract Women To Solve Its Gender Problem

By Eshe Nelson | Quartz | June 14, 2019

At 38, less than two years after completing a PhD in economics, Carolina Alves is taking a big risk with her career.

Alves is attempting to break down the sturdy hierarchy in economics that has created a field dominated by white men from English-speaking countries. She is trying to shake the foundations of mainstream economics so that other schools of thought can gain credibility and influence through the cracks. Eventually, she hopes, a more diverse and inclusive field of study can be built. In March, alongside nine, mostly female, fellow economists in the early stages of their careers, Alves set up the initiative called Diversifying and Decolonising Economics.

The goal of D-Econ, as she calls it, is to make economics “free of discrimination, including sexism, racism, and discrimination based on approach and geography.” Wanting to rid a profession of sexism and racism is not a controversial goal. The American Economic Association (AEA), the closest institution the field has to a governing body (it was established in 1885), is making similar efforts.

But D-Econ goes further. Its mission statement argues that the “homogenous composition” of the economics profession is a result of “systemic exclusion.” It’s not just a gender and racial diversity problem: There is also a lack of diversity in ideas, methodology, and theory. D-Econ says all these issues must be dealt with simultaneously.

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