For International Women’s Day, Wooster Women and Gender Minorities in Economics (WWGME) leaders Mahi Lal ’22, Mekdes Shiferaw ’23 and Maggie Dougherty ’21 interview their advisors, Dr. Brooke Krause, Dr. Melanie Long and Dr. Huiting Tian, about their research interests within the field of economics and how they see the future of the department.
- Why economics?
Dr. Tian: During my undergraduate years, my advisors helped me develop a passion for economics, finance and quantitative analysis that has motivated me throughout my graduate career.
Dr. Long: When I started college, I was broadly interested in understanding income inequality and policies that could help address it. I started as a political science major with an emphasis in economics. As part of that emphasis, I took a course called Economics as a Social Science during my first semester in college. The course featured fascinating topics, including the history of market economies and heterodox paradigms in economic thought. I decided to switch to an economics major while taking that class. I also took history and philosophy of science courses as part of my general education requirements, and I enjoyed using the ideas from those courses to think critically about the different and evolving ways in which economics has been done.
Dr. Krause: Because I said yes to an opportunity! Someone in my Spanish class my first year of college asked if anyone wanted to go to Guatemala over spring break. I didn’t know that student at the time, but I said yes! This was where I learned about marginalized indigenous communities and some of the challenges related to living in extreme poverty. I knew I wanted to learn more and found economics as a path to studying and alleviating poverty.
- What are your research interests?
Dr. Tian: My research interests are in applied econometrics and microeconomics with a focus on production economics. The central curiosity triggering my research is to understand the productive performance of countries, states and firms. By applying appropriate and sophisticated econometric techniques, my studies discuss how productivity and efficiency can be explained using various economic factors.
Dr. Long: My research investigates gender and racial inequality in the U.S. financial system. I explore how gaps in access to affordable ways of saving, borrowing and investing impact rates of debt accumulation and wealth inequality, with a focus on developments surrounding the 2008 Financial Crisis.
Dr. Krause: My field is development economics, within which my research interests are to understand how marginalized populations in the Global South make decisions and are affected by policies in order to identify ways to improve individual well-being. Health, education and gendered power dynamics within the household are themes that encompass my work.
- Why Wooster and what do you believe is the future of the economics department?
Dr. Tian: Wooster allows me to really get to know students, connect with them and meet their diverse needs. Even outside the classroom, there are plenty of events and programs to unite faculty and students as one. Being an economics major provides students the crucial skill sets that are necessary to understanding the world that surrounds them. Although challenges exist, such as more mathematical nature in economics and rapid advances in digital technologies, I believe economics will always bring us deeper insights about real-world phenomena.
Dr. Long: There are so many reasons why I love being at Wooster. One major reason is our amazing students! It is wonderful to see the dedication and passion that students bring to our classes and to everything that they do on campus and beyond. This is a very exciting time for the economics department, especially with the official chartering of WWGME! I am thrilled to see all of the events that WWGME has planned.
Dr. Krause: The future of the economics department is exciting! I joined the department five years ago and there was one year where I was the only woman in the department. Next academic year, we will have over 50% female representation among the economics faculty. We have been collectively and actively working on creating a department culture that asks how we can support each other and our students to grow in our inclusion efforts.