Increasing Ethnic and Gender Diversity in EconomicsWednesday 18 Nov 2020
A recent report co-authored by Dr Arun Advani, Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, University of Warwick and Co-chair of the national campaign Discover Economics, has highlighted the need for action to increase levels of diversity of academic economists in the UK, an issue which the Department is committed to addressing.
The report was the outcome of a collaborative project of between several organisations: The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Royal Economic Society (RES), Centre for Competitive Advantage (CAGE) based at Warwick and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
It finds that 24 per cent of academic economists conducting research are from BAME backgrounds and this proportion is increasing with time. However, there are large differences in representation across ethnic groups, with Chinese and Indian ethnicity overrepresented and Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black individuals significantly under-represented.
The report also finds that diversity is uneven across the HE sector, with Black economists 64 per cent less likely to work in Russell Group institutions than White economists. Ethnic minority economists are also less likely to hold senior academic or managerial positions than their white peers.
Will things be better for the next generation? The study reports good representation of BAME students among undergraduate students (37 per cent in 2018) studying economics. The issue of concern that emerges here is that of gender representation: men are much more likely to choose to study economics than women (1 in 29 British men study economics for their degree compared to 1 in 105 for women).
What action can be taken to increase the diversity of the profession? The report highlights the fact that the economics pipeline starts at school and many of the differences between groups derive from the lack of opportunity to study A level economics.
Dr Arun Advani comments, “Our findings show that without improving access to economics in schools, it is hard to make economists more representative of society”.
Dr Stefania Paredes Fuentes, Associate Professor within the Department of Economics, University of Warwick, has recently been appointed as the Royal Society of Economics’ Diversity Champion. In this role, Stefania which will help embed diversity more fully into the RES’s decision-making and promote and monitor diversity across all the Society’s activities.
Widening Participation and Outreach
The Department of Economics is also working hard to increase diversity amongst students and staff at Warwick. In addition to embracing the national Discover Economics campaign as reported in October 2019, the Department contributes to the University's initiatives to increase diversity within economics, including:
- Sutton Trust Summer School
- Pathways to Banking
- Warwick Scholars
The Department of Economics believes that access to a world-leading university should be open to people from all backgrounds. With an aim to raise students' aspirations and increase students' awareness of the benefits of Higher Education, the Department runs a number of initiatives, some of which include:
- Running a Discover Economics Virtual Series for Year 9 and 10 students from the local area.
- New webpage to access Economics academic resources for prospective students.
- Providing access to additional academic and pastoral support for eligible students.
Dr Lory Barile, Widening Participation Co-ordinator in the Department of Economics has said:
"Economics has a diversity problem which is largely affected by a misperception about the subject. Because of this, many talented students from diverse groups and backgrounds do not even consider studying economics.
We are working hard on increasing diversity in our Department by contributing to a number of initiatives at University level and organising our own activities at Departmental level to increase ethnic and gender diversity. We are very proud of our recent achievements on attracting students from under-represented groups and backgrounds, though we recognise the need to continue to work on creating a more inclusive and diverse environment within our discipline."
As another example of its commitment to diversity, the Department of Economics are also delighted to have recently published a set of community values which outlines key principles that in which all staff and students are expected to embrace.
These values aim to create a community where differences in culture are celebrated, difference of opinion is welcomed and respected and where prejudices and socially unacceptable behaviours of any kind are never tolerated.