Reflections on why we chose this discipline
Most often the discourse around being a woman in economics is about the pitfalls. It is about the struggles of being the only woman in the room, figuring out how to raise our voice, battling imposter syndrome, navigating hostile environments, finding a balance of work and family; to name just a few.
Yet despite all this, many of us are still appreciative to have found our way to economics. Within the Writing and Editing Team at the Women in Economics Initiative, we are all grateful to be in economics. In the midst of the frequent negative discussions, four of us want to share our anecdotes of why economics.
For all of us, our appreciation of economics includes the journey along the way to finding the discipline and unearthing all it has to offer. We love the discipline because it peaks our curiosity, provides us tools for understanding the world or challenges us.
These reflections are for anyone who is debating studying economics, contemplating if they should continue with economics, or who is questioning why they even stuck in the field in the first place. We hope this strikes a chord with the many reasons to appreciate economics, and most importantly, why we are happy to be women in economics.
I got interested in economics as I got interested in politics. I was at the cusp of my teenage years when the financial crisis and the European debt crisis struck the global economy which had a lasting effect on me and my desire to understand the underlying processes. Also the gap year I spent in Nicaragua, confronted me with issues such as economic development, global trade or managing a currency peg in my daily life, which made me ask the very essential question “why are some countries richer than others?”.
My experiences in “the real world” had me hooked on economics to study at university. Learning about developing countries, exchange rates and financial crises in theory and from a “safe distance” is one thing but having experienced them for me those issues suddenly had a face and a whole different dimension. Suddenly economic theory, which often is depicted as detached from the actual issues, becomes very real and tangible.
Studying economics has given me the opportunity to find answers to many of the questions I had when I first got interested in it and has encouraged me to ask even more. It hasn’t given me all the answers but rather a toolbox that enables me to try to figure it out myself. Economics has taught me a great deal of patience and endurance and above all it allowed me to keep my child-like curiosity for asking questions and finding creative solutions.
I feel empowered by doing something others depict as hard, something that is still a male-dominated field. Being part of it, to me, feels empowering.
-Charlotte from Germany, Master’s Student in International Economics
Economics is my glue.
Quite a bold yet abstruse statement. Yet, this sentence encapsulates my journey and relationship with the discipline of economics. As a young, ambitious teen in Delhi, I studied three social sciences subjects (economics, political science, and psychology) for my Boards. Anyone who knows a thing or two about the Indian education system is aware of the daunting nature of these examinations. Despite that, my love and passion for social sciences never decreased.
This passion turned out to be slightly problematic during my college major selection as I was completely torn between the three disciplines. A strong hunch made me study economics for my undergraduate. I spent three years studying everything one needs to know about economic theory and its various streams. Some were fun, some not so much. What kept me captivated was the sheer omnipresence of this discipline. It is not just about a certain economy, trade deficits, or monetary policy; it is much bigger and intricate.
Economics helped me understand how the world works and it continues to do so. It assisted me in training my mind to think analytically, that other disciplines would have fallen short of. The best part, I didn’t lose touch with psychology and political science when I entered economics. They were very much an integral part of the curriculum, making this discipline the pinnacle of social sciences; and in my case- a glue.
-Vishakha from India, Researcher in Policy Economics
I first got interested in economics because I had a hunch that it was necessary to truly understand anything in the world – whether it’s history, politics, social movements or culture. This was almost 10 years ago, and I’m very happy I had that hunch and followed through with it.
To me, economic research is really about telling a story. Every day I am fascinated with complex human behaviour and the way scholars in the field are carefully studying and explaining it, helping us understand a small part of life and the circumstances associated with it in a better way. I feel privileged to be looking for a story I am passionate about and do my best at telling the world about it.
-Merve from Turkey, PhD Candidate in Development Economics
I came to economics in high school because it lets me pursue my love of both math and history. But I soon realized economics was much more than that. By the end of college, I was entirely enamoured by the field.
For one, I loved the challenges it posed; the way it forced me to think both creatively and analytically. I appreciated that there was always something new to learn and discover. I have never been bored by economics (even in that long lecture with the monotone voice).
The challenges of economics captivated me, but it is the discipline’s ability to do good that is keeping me. Economics isn’t just crunching numbers and debating the imposing threat of inflation, it’s about understanding how to improve the lives of those around us. I want to leave a positive mark on this world, and I believe economics is the best means to do so.
Kristalina Georgieva once said, “economics is not a dismal science, but rather an empathetic science.” This resonated with me. It gave me hope about what I can do with the knowledge and tools of economics. For that, I am happy to be in economics and continue deeper into the field.
-Ella from the United States, Master’s Student in Economics