Girls growing up to be economists

As if to mark my first day at Evidence for Policy Design, a Lafayette College colleague, Susan Averett, tweeted an op-ed by Claudia Goldin on how to get more girls to grow up to be economists. It’s a few months old, but it does a good job of highlighting many of the obstacles to women studying economics, both structural and psychological.

In particular, the following resonated with me: “Many young women don’t seem to understand that economics is also for those who have broad intellectual interests and for those with research and policy interests in health, education, poverty, inequality, crime, obesity, the environment, terrorism or infectious disease.”

I’m not sure who told me that I didn’t have to study financial markets or GDP and I could still be an economist, but I’m really grateful to that person, or persons. I know that I do a lot of blowing of people’s minds when I tell them I’m an economist and I work on issues of violence against children in Zimbabwe, or that I’m researching school desegregation in the American South, or that my economics degree prepared me for a job in journalism. I spend a lot of time telling students that economics is flexible and really, you can do whatever you want with it.

I am so excited to start at EPoD this week, to work on issues of public policy, of women’s labor force participation, of banking, of development, of agriculture, of climate change, of any number of things we probably haven’t even thought of yet. I can already tell it’s a great place for flexible thinking and creative use of economics.

Here’s my EPoD site, complete with a picture you’ve probably already seen if you’ve been reading this blog awhile. Perhaps it’s time for new headshots? Do economists do that?

Sure! We can do whatever we want, right?

Insert joke here about Boston accents…

It’s been a crazy spring. Weather-wise, life plans-wise, travel-wise, just kind of nuts all around. I realize much of this is self-induced craziness. I’m the one looking for a job. I’m the one who jets off to Portugal for the weekend. I’m the one who can’t sit still.

It seems, though, that I might have found something to help calm the waters of a few of those things, and perhaps stir up some others. I’m excited to announce that I have accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher at Evidence for Policy Design, a group within Harvard Kennedy School‘s Center for International Development. I will be working with Rohini Pande and Erica Field, spending some time in India, and working on several really cool research projects pertaining to women’s labor force participation, banking, the environment, and policy making in India. It’s an opportunity to continue my own research on gender, violence and discrimination in the developing world, to get some experience in the field, and to work with and around a large group of incredibly smart people doing awesome research on gender, development, and related fascinating topics.

I’m absolutely over the moon excited. I will be learning from the very best and there is likely no job that better fits my interests and skills.

I will be very sad to leave Lafayette College. The students here are wonderful. My colleagues here are phenomenal. They have become fantastic friends, mentors, coauthors, yoga buddies, running partners, cycling partners, and so much more in a very short time. I don’t imagine that those things will change; I know how to make sure I’m not forgotten. (mwahahaha).

I’m also grateful for the outpouring of congratulations and support I’ve already received from friends, family, and colleagues. I feel so fortunate to have all of you in my life. The best responses I’ve gotten so far have been from my dad and the woman who cleans the room I teach in at 8am. My dad said, “buy a plane ticket home and we’ll drink the ’82 Mouton!” (I didn’t, for the record). The woman who cleans my classroom said, “Congratulations! When are you moving to Connecticut?” A wonderful, subtle reminder that Cambridge is not the center of everyone’s universe, even if it’s about to become mine.