08 Jun Deep Rooted Structural ‘Violence’ Keeps Black Women Out of Economics
Economics, we have a problem.
Due to inherent myths that women don’t like math, economics hasn’t received the same attention of the more glamorous “e”—engineering, that makes up the term STEM. Very little attention is paid to the lack of black women in economics, a skill that can fall under almost any other industry, opening black women to more jobs and advancement. When black women economists do get the job, they are met with resistance or old-guard barriers. According to a study by the American Economic Association, 62% of black women economists have experienced racial or sex discrimination. Recent attention to this issue also shows that some black women feel ignored, and undervalued in a hi-profile industry that can have positive impact on the communities they live and thrive.
Fanta Traore is the cofounder of the Sadie Collective, a growing nonprofit organization that addresses pipeline and pathway problems in the field of economics and related fields for early career professionals, specifically black women. At Sadie Collective, Traore, and cofounder Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, are on the frontlines of changing the face of economics and supporting the black women building careers. Below, Traore shares the “inherent structural violence” and challenges that keep black women out of economics and ideas to close the gap.
Maryann Reid: What is the most pressing issue facing black women in economics now?
Fanta Traore: The most pressing issue facing black women in economics is that like any other space, we have to be lucky to be graced with the kindness of those with positions of power to advance in our career in the profession. The reality is that in order for substantial change to take place, those in leadership across the spectrum of economic think tanks, consulting firms, tech companies, and anywhere there is a conversation about economics, need to be intentional about creating systemic change in their institutions by re-evaluating their hiring processes and the implicit demonstration of their biases. Once the concerns that black women express about the profession are adequately addressed, then all other people of color will benefit and the discipline will be more representative of the general population in the kind of questions it asks in turn making society better for us all.