Women in Economics
A Brandeis Tradition
One of the Brandeis Economics Department’s points of pride is our long tradition of supporting women in Economics. Long before women were widely welcomed in the profession, Brandeis Emeriti Professors Anne Carter and Rachel McCulloch were not only conducting ground-breaking research in technological change and international trade, but they were also breaking down barriers for women in the profession.
Professor Carter, who would become Brandeis’s first female Dean of Arts and Sciences from 1981 to 1986, was known by aspiring women economists as “a voice for keeping ambitious goals for research ... an inspiration for clear thinking and writing, and a source of encouragement and support.” Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve Board, said of Professor McCulloch, “She took it as a given that women in the profession have the ability to succeed and should ignore potential obstacles to success.” In recognition of their scholarship and their lifetime of support of other women in the profession, both received the prestigious Carolyn Bell Shaw Award granted by the American Economic Association. The only other university that has had two recipients of this award is the University of Pennsylvania.
The legacy of these two remarkable women continues. In the male-dominated world of higher education, Brandeis stands out. Even today, only 15 percent of the tenured and tenure track-faculty in U.S. economics department are women; but at Brandeis, nearly half of our tenure and tenure-track faculty, and a full two-thirds of our tenured faculty, are women. Having women on the faculty matters. Their presence and mentorship helps to extend the research conducted within the department beyond traditional macroeconomics and firm pricing into areas such as environmental economics, economic development, the economics of gender, and the economics of the arts. Further our female faculty contribute to fostering an intellectual environment in which students with diverse interests find the department an exciting place to study and do research. Perhaps that is why at Brandeis the Economics Department works so well and is such a popular major! USA Today ranked Brandeis ninth in the US for universities from which to get an economics degree, between Cornell and Stanford.
Of course we save our greatest pride for the women, our current students and alumni, who are carrying the Brandeis legacy forward. As students at Brandeis, women have taken leadership roles in the department, serving as undergraduate departmental representatives (UDRs) and as research assistants, working on projects such as the financing of World War II, and many conduct their own research on a wide-range of topics including the European fiscal crisis and the role of child labor in India. While all of our graduates do well, we have consistently placed women graduates in top economics PhD programs including Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Recent women alumni have accepted positions at prestigious public institutions such as the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office, as well as highly sought-after positions in economic and public policy consulting firms and private sector corporations.