Last month, we shared how faculty in the Robins School’s economics department are participating in a unique study to encourage more women to study the discipline. This month, we will hear the student perspective on the gender issue in economics. 

Emily Evans, ’18, and Martha Whamond, ’17, were among the three students to attend the Undergraduate Women in Economics conference at the University of Virginia in April 2016. These students have experienced the gender inequality firsthand as they sit in male dominated classes each day. The conference provided the opportunity to discuss what each university is doing to help solve this problem and move towards a solution. 

Evans, who hails from Ipswich, Mass., was drawn to University of Richmond’s balance of tough academics and active and motivated student body. She has always understood math and found an interest in economics, which she finds very applicable to many different career paths. 

Although the lack of women in the industry did not influence her choice of major, she believes it will impact her postgraduate career as she searches for role models in the industry. This summer Evans is gaining experience as an intern in the finance department of a non-profit organization.

Whamond came to UR from Westport, Conn., with the intention of studying medicine.  In her first semester she enrolled in Principles of Microeconomics with Professor Maia Linask. Whamond quickly fell in love with economics and decided to take additional classes on the subject which ultimately inspired her to switch her major.

“The lack of females in the major did make an impact at first since I was a nervous freshman who wanted to make new friends,” she explains. “Very early on through my involvement in Greek life, I met a senior woman in the economics major that was an amazing role model.”

Once Whamond made the decision to pursue economics she met plenty of older women, and men, that served as mentors and friends. Having the advice and influence of role models early on eased her anxiety of pursing economics.

This summer, Whamond will be in New York City working for PwC as an intern in the Advanced Risk and Compliance Analytics Solutions practice. She aspires to eventually return to school to pursue a master’s degree in economics.

“The Robins School faculty, in the economics department and otherwise, have been the most helpful resource and support system in my three years at Richmond. I am grateful for the approachable faculty,” Whamond expresses.

Students like Evans and Whamond are lending their experience as economics students to the faculty as they tackle this initiative together. 

“As I have discussed with Dr. Linask, I think the biggest area for us to improve is exposing first year students to older students in the major,” Whamond states. This area of concern was recently addressed by founding a mentoring program.

Another area of concern that economics students have noted is that students do not necessarily see the usefulness and versatility of the major. A new course, Conversations in Economics, is now offered to showcase the breadth of the field and industry.

The Robins School of Business economics department has already made great strides towards their end goal, and future female economics students have inspiring role models in Evans and Whamond.