Addressing the pipeline and pathway problem for Black women in economics and related fields
The Diversity Problem
Economics has a diversity problem, especially with regards to gender, as indicated by Bloomberg, The Economist, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times. Appropriately, the discipline has earned the title of an "ol' boys club," with the majority of influential professors and policymakers being largely white and male. While underrepresented groups have begun to make headway in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, the lack of diversity in economics remains a problem as the barriers to top doctoral programs rise and the field continues to skew towards white men. According to Dr. Rhonda V. Sharpe, the number of Black women pursuing economics is declining and less historically Black colleges and universities are offering economics as a major.
In 2018, five out of 1,197 doctoral degrees in Economics, were awarded to Black women. In other words, less than 0.5 percent. Comparatively, Black women accounted for nearly 4 percent of all STEM PhDs awarded in 2018. At the Bachelors level, the disparity in economics is just as concerning. Only 4 percent of bachelor degrees in economics were earned by Black women in 2018. It is also well known that economics is a proxy business and finance careers. According to the National Science Foundation, less Black women are majoring in mathematics and other STEM-related disciplines over time. However, social sciences, such as psychology, are growing in interest.
The Sadie Collective seeks to be an answer to the dismal representation of Black women in the quantitatively demanding fields.
Black Women and Careers in Economics and Related Fields
Textual Analysis of Pre-Surveys for the 2020 Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference for Economics and Related Fields in response to 1) What excites Black women about a career in economics and related fields? and 2) What worries Black women about a career in economics and related fields?
Data on Black Women in Economics
2019 Report of the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP)
Rhonda V. Sharpe's 2018 National Economic Association Presidential Address
National Science Foundation 2019 Report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with
Disabilities in Science and Engineering
Data on Black Women in Economics
By empowering and equipping Black women in quantitative sciences, The Sadie Collective addresses the pipeline and pathway problem in economics, finance, data science, and public policy through curated content creation, programming, and mentorship.
The Sadie Collective was officially founded in August 2018 in Washington, D.C. by two Black women: Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, then an undergraduate at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and Fanta Traore, then a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Both women drew inspiration from their own personal experiences as Black women studying economics and the National Economic Association presidential address on the pipeline for Black women in the field, given by Dr. Rhonda V. Sharpe.
The Sadie Collective is named after Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African American to earn her doctoral degree in economics in 1921 from the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, due to racial barriers that persisted at the time, she was unable to find work in the economics profession and instead pursued a career in law, holding a variety of positions such as Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia and President of John F. Kennedy's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The Collective aims to bring together Black women at different stages in their academic and/or professional careers in the quantitative sciences to share resources, network, and advocate for broader visibility in the field. The Collective strives to create safe spaces where Black women in these fields can obtain the resources they need to thrive. The Collective is working to shift inequitable power structures that create barriers to access in economics so that everyone can fully participate in the field.