INCREASING DIVERSITY IN ECONOMICS: New #DiscoverEconomics campaign launches next week led by the Royal Economic Society

10 Oct 2019

Next week, the Royal Economic Society (RES) will be launching a new campaign to increase diversity in economics. The launch event will take place on Tuesday 15 October, 10am to 12pm at the Resolution Foundation, 2 Queen Anne's Gate, Westminster, London SW1H 9AA. 

The #DiscoverEconomics initiative – which aims to attract more women, minority students and students from state schools and colleges to study the subject at university – already has the support of wide range of institutions involved in economic research, communication and policy-making, including the Bank of England, the Government Economic Service, the Society of Professional Economists, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Economics lags behind mathematics and most science disciplines with less than 30% of women in its student population, while privately educated students are over-represented. As a subject that is not taught in all schools, the three-year campaign aims to change perceptions of economics and what economists really do.

The first phase of the campaign will raise awareness of the problem, and work with universities and employers to increase information about routes into economics. The second phase will launch to 15-17 year olds from September 2020.

Professor Sarah Smith, Head of the School of Economics at the University of Bristol and co-chair of the campaign, says:

‘Economics – and economists – can sometimes suffer from an image problem. It’s really important as a profession that we reach out to schools and colleges and start talking about the great things that studying economics has to offer. We will only succeed in this if we work together – and we look forward to other organisations joining the campaign.’

Professor Arun Advani of the University of Warwick, co-chair of the campaign, notes:

‘State school and ethnic minority students are under-represented among economics undergraduates. By not studying economics, these students miss out on a degree that leads to high-paid future careers. But more fundamentally, the lack of diversity among economics students is a problem because economists – who occupy key policy roles in society – need to reflect the world that they are helping to shape.’

The launch event will set out the details of the campaign – and how other organisations can become involved. It will feature a panel discussion with Rachel Griffith (RES President), Catherine Connolly (Society of Professional Economists), Ratidzo Starkey (Head of Outreach and Education, Bank of England), Osama Rahman (the Department for Education's Director of Analysis and Chief Scientific Adviser) and Ali Norrish (Head of Research and Schools, Economy). 

Professor Rachel Griffith, the first woman to be RES President since the early 1980s and only the second ever, comments:

‘Attracting people from a wide diversity of backgrounds and outlooks into economics really matters – for the future of the discipline and for good policy-making. With this campaign, we will do all we can to engage the very best and brightest students.’

Professor Griffith has just written ‘What is economics?’, a one-page summary published on the British Academy website:

https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/blog/what-is-economics

Professor Smith has written about economics and its gender problem here:

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/economics-and-finance/economics-has-a-gender-problem-and-it-starts-at-school

For more about the campaign, see:

https://www.res.org.uk/resources-page/discover-economics-campaign-launch.html

To discover economics, visit the campaign website:

http://www.discovereconomics.ac.uk/

And to register for the event in London on Tuesday 15 October, go to this site:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/res-discover-economics-campaign-launch-tickets-72081368313

The RES has already been nominated for an ‘Inclusion, Outreach and Diversity Award’ by CityAM for its efforts to promote economics to under-represented groups aged 15-17:

https://www.cityam.com/awards/categories/inclusion-outreach-and-diversity-award/

ENDS