One of the new clubs currently navigating the charter process is the Wooster Women and Gender Minorities in Economics (WWGME) club. The idea for the creation of this group came from students working collaboratively in their classes and research. Through these experiences, they realized that the support they were providing each other was a valuable asset. Not wanting this network of support and comradery to end after they all graduated, they decided to work towards formalizing their activities in the form of a club. The group is co-advised by Professors of Economics Melanie Long, Brooke Krause and Huitang Tian, and all three advisors look forward to the opportunities and connections this group can create.
“The Wooster economics department’s mission is rooted in pluralism,” explained Amyaz Moledina, the chair and an associate professor of the department. “This pluralism is not just about what we teach. It is also how we work with our students, recognizing that each of them comes from a different worldview with different and unique capabilities and levels of privilege. I am grateful that our students and faculty support equality and inclusion. They do so with concrete actions. I am really proud to be part of a department that has nurtured and supported the creation of WWGME by our students.”
Krause is thrilled to advise such a great group of students who are passionate about creating this student organization. “I am so excited to see this group of students initiate WWGME and to create a space for women and gender minorities within our major,” Krause said. “I look forward to working with this group as they get established and connect with other liberal arts colleges.”
This club will ultimately benefit those who wish to study economics or generally have a passion for advancing equality within traditionally male-dominated fields. “Dr. Krause, Dr. Tian and I were happy to support their efforts by serving as co-advisors for the club,” Long added. “As faculty, we also learn about career development and educational opportunities through our professional networks and will be passing these on to WWGME. For instance, I am the department’s liaison with the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. This professional organization offers many resources that would be helpful for students considering further studies or careers in economics.”
The students are even more excited about this upcoming program because as women and gender minorities, the group allows them to feel more empowered and welcomed in the department.
“Economics is mostly seen as a male-dominated subject,” acting Public Relations Manager Srushti Chaudhari ’22 said. “During my first year on campus, Dr. Moledina talked about how much representation matters in economics, and that has stayed with me throughout my college career. Women and gender minorities who are passionate about it are often discouraged and feel like they don’t belong because they don’t see others like them in their peers or in the professors.”
Acting co-President Mahi Lal echoed this sentiment in a recent interview with the Voice, explaining, “In a highly male-dominated space such as the Economics department, something that my female and gender minority majors or minors and I shared in common was this feeling of not belonging. Most of these economics majors were double majors, indicating that they were not comfortable in this space or felt that their needs were not met just by the economics department. Intersectionally speaking, even within the female economics major, I felt like an outsider because these spaces were predominantly white.”
She continued with her hopes for what the club might become, saying, “I believe that this club will provide a safe and comfortable space for women like me. With the recent increase in representation in both gender and race in the department, students are already feeling more comfortable. This club will further provide an escape and solidarity to not only those who feel left out, outside of classes, but also to everyone who sees how narrow the field of economics can be.”
Tessa Ireton ’21, acting treasurer of the club, shared more about the club’s overall mission and goal. “The mission of WWGME is to elevate female and gender-minority students in the economics field, but I also hope the organization becomes a model through which all economics students develop a community of collaboration where we are comfortable lifting each other as we rise. A space to promote the academic and career success of diverse voices in economics is something that the owners of those voices obviously need and deserve, but every student in the field benefits from the perspectives their peers bring to the conversation. I’m confident that the space that WWGME aims to create on campus can make Wooster’s community of economics students even wiser, smarter and more compassionate than before.”
Acting Vice President Mekdes Shiferaw ’23 spoke on how the club was born. “The idea came from Maggie Dougherty — she was really grateful and inspired by the circle of friends and fellow students she came across as a G.I.S. and economics student and wanted to create a space to formally organize it for others,” Shiferaw explained. “Watching [this club] evolve from a group chat to the constitution has been rewarding. Big kudos to the seniors in the team for their time, experience and desire to create something we hope to sustain — I mean, what a legacy.”
Part of this legacy would include networking, educational and career advancement programming, including trips to conferences. For example, the group hopes to provide opportunities inspired by the Economics Department-sponsored trip to the Women in Economics Symposium put on by the Federal Reserve in Cleveland last February, which was attended by twenty students who able to learn about gender issues in the field of economics. In addition to conferences and networking, the club hopes to bring light to issues of gender equality globally, nationally and at The College of Wooster. They aim to do this by elevating the voices of women and gender minorities, creating space for them in leadership roles and providing a safe environment and community in which members can share their experiences.
The organization’s charter and constitution are set to begin the review process in mid- to late- October, according to Director of Lowry Center and Student Activities Julia Zimmer. The club leaders say they are very excited to begin moving forward with the process. Co-President Maggie Dougherty described the passion of the group, saying “This whole process started by just sending an email with a half-baked idea, and it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in such a short time since then. I think it is a testament to how energized everyone is about this idea, giving us the motivation to stay up late writing the constitution long after giving up on our other work. I know all of us, but especially my friends of color in this group, have often felt a sense of imposter syndrome, or have struggled with envisioning ourselves in high-ranking positions in the field. Having such a wonderful group of female economists as our professors, advisors and role models has really inspired us, and to see how we could live up to the example they have set.”
Dougherty continued, explaining, “We really just want to leave behind a better department environment for those who come after us. I know my fellow seniors and I are unlikely to benefit directly from the programming and mentorship of this group, but we all want to provide the infrastructure for something great for our underclass members. Personally, I consider many of the younger members in this group to be my little sisters and siblings, and my greatest hope is just to provide a space where they feel supported and empowered to be the wonderful people they are. If we do even that, I feel like we have succeeded.”
For more information on WWGME, please contact acting co-Presidents Maggie Dougherty ’21 and Mahi Lal ’22.