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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Inclusive economics society fosters camaraderie, professional development

The Undergraduate Womxn in Economics Society hosts speaker panels, socials and other career events for those of all genders


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


Economics has historically been a male-dominated field at many colleges in the United States. In fact, only 37% of declared economics majors at UC Davis identify as women.

However, a particular organization was created on campus to help change this narrative.

The Undergraduate Womxn in Economics Society was created at UC Davis to encourage more diversity in the study of economics. The society was founded in 2018 by Anya Gibson and Leanna Friedrich of the Economics Advising Department.

Despite the name of the organization, all that is required for applicants is to be a declared economics major and to have a commitment to equal representation within the field.

The organization facilitates professor and alumni speaker events, social gatherings and other academic and professional development opportunities for students. These events are held to provide a network of support for all undergraduates in the field, especially since economics is such a broad and widely applicable subject.

“Economics is one of those disciplines that opens a lot of doors — it’s a toolbox to solve problems in the world,” Janine Wilson, associate professor in the economics department and faculty advisor for the Undergraduate Womxn in Economics Society, said.

As a result of being such an interdisciplinary major, students benefit greatly from the guidance this club provides in terms of navigating coursework and their career paths.

Megha Nagaram, a third-year economics major and student leader of the society, agreed that the club has helped her learn more about the major, its professors and its classes.

“I would even say, professionally, [the organization] opened my eyes to so many different careers in economics that I was not aware existed or that I didn’t really know what they looked like in practice,” Nagaram said. “The diversity of the guest speakers we’ve had really helped clarify that for me.”

Celine Narciso, a fourth-year economics major and general member of the club, contributed insight into choosing economics classes. 

“[The club] helped with the kinds of classes I might want to take because guest speakers did talk about which classes were important for which jobs,” Narciso said.

Once students graduate, they face a plethora of options to pursue, whether that’s a job in the private sector, the public sector or in fields like the medical sciences or policy-making.

“Sometimes people don’t know where to start in terms of transitioning from college to career,” Wilson said. “Our hope is that the young people in the group can really see the opportunities and the variety of paths that are possible with a degree in economics.”

Nagaram shared a similar view regarding the intersection between economics and other career options.

“[The Undergraduate Womxn in Economics Society] really showed me that I could have a career in law and economics,” Nagaram said. “That’s exactly what I wanted.”

An important goal for the society is also to bridge the gap between students and professors.

For instance, every week the club hosts study halls for members in the economics department building. Faculty will often pop into these study sessions to tell students about new courses or opportunities in the major, according to Wilson.

“[This] gives students a place to be in the day-to-day of the department in a way that we haven’t had [occurring],” Wilson said.

What’s more, the society is a chance for students to form long-lasting bonds with their peers and to interact with colleagues they never would have otherwise met.

“[It’s] really cool and eye-opening [to] expose yourself to people who come from a different perspective,” Nagaram said. “I think [I was able to] meet some of my best friends in college through [the society]. I would [see] them at a meeting, and I would see them again in class later. It was just seeing that familiar face that I was able to open a door to friendship.”

Currently, the Undergraduate Womxn in Economics Society is heading in a new direction in terms of its goals for students.

“Community building has been so critical these last few years, and it seems to be good for our students,” Wilson said. “It seems to be a positive direction of the club: to focus more on being casual, social and [having] community-building events.”

Wilson also emphasized the important role that camaraderie plays in the club.

“The real value is the community of people that, you know, support you and whatever path you choose and want to be in study groups with you,” Wilson said. “This is the greatest value.”


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org



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