I taught a two-hour introductory class in Econometrics today for high-school and middle-school students (it is a Splash program at my University, and I am a student myself). We started with about 12 students and ended with 5, it was about even girls and boys starting out, so there is clearly interest by both sides in learning this material, but by the end all of the girls left before the lecture (and practical in R) finished. I don't know if the material was just too difficult for them or they simply did not find it interesting. Economics is a male dominated field so I am sad to see these girls dis-engaging from the field before they have even started.

So I want to start a conversation. What can we do to engage these girls in our economic classes so that they may continue in the field and lessen this gender gap?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you describe the content of the course a little more, preferably as an edit to the question? $\endgroup$
    – Tommi
    Nov 12, 2017 at 7:25
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    $\begingroup$ "I don't know if the material was just too difficult for them" is probably not a good starting point for your investigation. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2017 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael E2: Person X saying this is likely to lead others to believe that Person X believes girls are less capable, and for many people this is a sensitive subject. Sure, perhaps it is the case that for these specific 5 girls, the material was too difficult. But the issue is not with these specific 5 girls, but rather with girls in general. Also, using words and phrases such as "them" and "those people" for disenfranchised groups has for many years (maybe over 40 years?) been a major faux pas. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2017 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ I might start by checking with someone at the school to find out if there were any conflicts. Perhaps there was a women's sports team that had a practice that overlapped with your class. Or a leadership club that is skewed toward girls. $\endgroup$
    – Danielle
    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ thanks everyone, I saw a related link, they answer my questions, this can be closed (: matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/584/… $\endgroup$
    – Sunhwa
    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:54

1 Answer 1

  1. You could look at the math content. There should have been almost none. PQ curves is it (and without equations, just pictures). And use $ for the price (not the too theoretical guns and butter). Note, I'm not saying this to dumb it down, I'm saying this because if you had a bunch of math, you are hiding the ideas.

Would say the same about 90%+ intro stats classes in that calculus should not be included. You don't need it to learn to "think statistically" as George Box would say. Similarly on econ and math content. You want your students to be able to "think economically" (recognize sunk cost fallacies, understand the different of a supply or demand shift of the curve versus movement along it, etc.) This is not a rare thing per se, but unfortunately poor economic thinking is also not rare even at the highest levels in companies (see confusion of economics and accounting all the time). Teach the kids to think economically and you are doing God's work (figuratively, no blasphemy intended).

  1. Class should be all micro, no macro. This is a foundation you need before macro. And macro still tends to have a lot of places where it is fuzzy on how it works (and even politically charged). Supply and demand has been pretty clear since the Roman Empire. Your kids are not going to be implementing tax or Fed financy policy (in all likelihood). But almost everyone in their daily life will experience things where they need to make investment decisions (fix the AC or buy a new one, add a receptionist to your one man doctor's office or don't or join a group, etc. etc.)

  2. R project? R project? [Said in the tone of Jim Mora's "playoffs?".] You don't need that. I wouldn't bother with it at a 100% boys school. (This is not cutting F=ma out of physics. It is cutting a not needed distraction.) But it's really not helping the spread the news cause here.

If you have to have a project, make it more like a Harvard business case study or something out of the newspaper. Or group projects or set of different ones. Or what have you. But not the R. Just no.

Remember in quantum mechanics (good) intro texts first teach things with normal equation writing BEFORE getting into bra ket operator funny looking things. It is hard to learn a new concept AND new notation at the same time. And you're gonna make them do R? When kids are dropping like flies from your class? Just no.

I don't know R NOW and I function just fine in the business world doing strategy, valuations for M&A, etc. etc. I could learn it if I needed to, but I feel no "lack" from not having it.

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    $\begingroup$ -1, this does not answer the question (which is about gender), and worse, it falls victim to the same outdated sexist assumptions hinted at in the question ("I wouldn't bother with it at a 100% boys school"). $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2017 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ thank you, i didn't know if i was reading this wrong and not know what to reply $\endgroup$
    – Sunhwa
    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ (from above) "Possible duplicate of How to encourage women to study mathematics?; yes thats what I'm thinking". You all are not getting it. Intro econ should not be high math content. You need to learn the fundamental concepts (PQ curves, etc.) not get lost in equations. Especially in an intro course. $\endgroup$
    – guest
    Nov 13, 2017 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a student discussion of math content by students. forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/121562/… An overly mathematical approach is not appropriate for 95%+ of intro econ students. $\endgroup$
    – guest
    Nov 13, 2017 at 21:23

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