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.

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The lower participation rates of women and ethnic/racial minorities in Economics is a problem at all levels of education. Often discussion focuses on the "leak" along the academic pipeline, where 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 are absent from higher ranks of academia. The data cited here, however, reveal that our profession has a particular problem at the undergraduate level. A recent report by the AEA's Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession documents 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 greater interest at the undergraduate level, attempts to increase the participation rates of women and minorities at higher levels are unlikely to succeed.

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


For more information, see

  • Mora, M.T. (2012) Racial and Ethnic Differences among Economics Baccalaureates. The Minority Report. AEA 1, 9-11.