Committee Spotlight: Q&A with the CSMGEP Co-Chairs Gary Hoover and Ebonya Washington
Gary Hoover is the Executive Director of The Murphy Institute and Professor of Economics at Tulane University. Ebonya Washington is the Samuel C. Park Jr. Professor of Economics at Yale University. They serve together as co-chairs of the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession. They answer some questions about the committee's mission and activities.
The CSMGEP was established in 1968 to increase the representation of minorities in the economics profession, primarily by broadening opportunities for the training of underrepresented minorities. Additionally, the CSMGEP works to ensure that issues related to the representation of minorities are considered in the work of the AEA, and engages in other efforts to promote the advancement of minorities in the economics profession. Can you tell us more about who you are serving, and how?
The CSMGEP serves the entire profession. Increasing the representation of racial and ethnic minorities will improve the economics profession as a whole by bringing in a greater diversity of perspectives and experiences. For a review of the literature demonstrating how racially diverse teams outperform homogenous teams see Bayer and Rouse, 2016.
The CSMGEP serves the profession through three main programs which target and seek to boost the economics careers of underrepresented scholars at varying points in their professional development. First, the Summer Training Program is an eight-week program that provides undergraduates with coursework in math, microeconomics, econometrics, and research methods in order to prepare students for PhD programs in economics. Students whose presence in our profession would further diversity efforts are eligible to receive full fellowships. The program is currently hosted by the Economics Department at Howard University.
Second, the Mentoring Program pairs underrepresented ethnic and racial minority graduate students with PhD mentors in the field. The program further supports participants with funding for travel and research, opportunities for networking, and career development.
Finally, the Summer Economics Fellows Program places graduate students and early career professionals in the research departments of sponsoring agencies. During their summer fellowships, participants work on their own research while participating in the sponsoring institution’s research community. Fellowships are open to economists without regard to race, ethnicity or gender; however, the goal of the program—to increase the representation of women and minorities in the field—drives the selection process. This program is co-sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP).
In addition to the three main programs, the CSMGEP sponsors several additional initiatives aimed at diversifying the profession.
- The Minority Job Market Candidates Page lists underrepresented minority candidates on the junior market. We also host a dissertation session where late-stage graduate students present their work each year at the ASSA meetings.
- The Minority Report, a joint effort with the Association for Economic Research of Indigenous Peoples (AERIP), the American Society of Hispanic Economists (ASHE) and the National Economic Association (NEA), highlights research by and about underrepresented minorities in economics, addresses our history in the profession, and offers articles on career development including profiles of minority economists and of careers outside of academia. The newsletter also lists the announcements and activities of the four contributing organizations.
- The Research Seminar Speakers Database for Marginalized Economists is a database of economists who identify as underrepresented minorities, women, nonbinary and/or LGBTQ+ individuals. We invite those who identify as such to add their names to the list. We invite all seminar organizers to consult the database to diversify their speaker series.
- The Div.E.Q is a resource for economics educators to help make classrooms and departments more welcoming to members of marginalized groups through evidence-based teaching practices.
- The CSMGEP annual report provides data on the numbers of Black, Latinx and Native American undergraduate, graduate, and academic economists. The report also details the committee’s work over the past year.
- In addition to the dissertation session, the CSMGEP hosts a research paper session, a cocktail reception (jointly with AERIP, ASHE and NEA) at the ASSA meeting, and professional development sessions at regional meetings.
- The CSMGEP members also consult with departments on their diversity and inclusion initiatives.
What advice would you give to underrepresented minorities thinking about becoming economists?
Think of ways that economics can be used as a tool to answer the questions which are most pressing to you. Students search for answers; scholars search for questions.
Study math at least through real analysis but also study history and other fields outside of economics so that you’ll have context for what you end up researching.
Outside of the academic preparation, prepare yourself emotionally for graduate school. Have a good support system and a self-care routine. Find yourself a community in real life or virtually. Many students, who find themselves "the only one" in their home institution, have found #EconTwitter to be a source of fellowship and mentorship. Reach out to those who have walked this path before you. You are not in this alone.
What particular resources or mentoring programs would you want to highlight for underrepresented minorities considering graduate school or starting in the field?
Apart from our Summer Training Program for undergraduates, Mentoring Program for graduate students and Summer Fellowship Program for graduate students and early career professionals, we list postbaccalaureate fellowship and other opportunities on this Professional Development Resources webpage which is co-hosted with CSWEP.
There are really interesting profiles of economists on the CSMGEP website. How often are these posted and how are they selected?
Do you have any new initiatives or upcoming events that you would like people to be more aware of?
The CSMGEP has six new awards to promote diversity and inclusion.
- The AEA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion recognizes departments and organizations that demonstrate outstanding achievement in diversity and inclusion practices.
- The Department Seed Grants for Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion provide funding for departments to establish a program that increases the number of underrepresented minorities in PhD programs in economics.
- The Andrew Brimmer Undergraduate Prize is awarded to the undergraduate student who submits the best essay on the "economic wellbeing of Black Americans." The winner receives a $1,000 award thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.
- Travel Grants provide funding for underrepresented minority economists to travel to the ASSA meetings.
- The Small Group Breakfast Meeting offers an opportunity for early-career underrepresented minority economists to network with a prominent member of the profession at a breakfast at the ASSA meetings.
- The Professional Development Grant, funded by Pearson Education, is awarded each year to an underrepresented minority junior economist based on an essay on how his or her research relates to economics education.
Applications for all of these awards are due annually each fall.
What kinds of challenges does the committee face in its current work?
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd we have been inundated, particularly with requests for us to consult with organizations trying to implement or revise their diversity initiatives. We have also received many invitations to speak. To meet this demand, we have expanded the size of our committee.
Yet, we remain a small organization. Because of its size, the CSMGEP is continually challenged by our desire to do more, including responding to excellent suggestions we receive from those outside of the committee. The CSMGEP encourages those with ideas to help promote diversity and inclusion in the profession to take the initiative, get involved, and become partners in this work.
How can one get involved with the CSMGEP? What are the best ways for people to help?
The purpose of the CSMGEP is to increase the representation and improve the experience of underrepresented minority groups in the profession. Each economist can help in that effort by attending to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in his or her home institution or department. We ask each economist to take at least one measure to improve diversity. For example, consult the Div.E.Q and make your classroom relevant for all students, use the speaker database to diversify a conference, revisit hiring/promotion practices to ensure they are equitable (for examples, see the AEA Best Practices for Economics), provide information to students on the pathways and possibilities of an economics career, and create incentives for others in your department to increase diversity (for examples, see Bayer, Hoover and Washington 2020). Both the AEA Best Practices and the Bayer, Hoover and Washington 2020 paper have ideas of varying time commitments, from interacting in a more welcoming manner with a student or research assistant to starting your own mentoring program.
Yes. We also invite people to explore our website to learn more about all that we do. Some of our individual members have Twitter accounts such as Jose Fernandez (@uoflecon), Amanda Bayer (@Div_E_Q), and Gary Hoover (@garyahoover).