Undergraduate Women in Economics (UWE)


The Undergraduate Women in Economics Challenge is an initiative to encourage more undergraduate women to major in economics. The Challenge is designed as an RCT that will provide funding and guidance to 20 randomly selected schools to implement interventions that will fulfill this goal.

Nationwide there are about three males for every female student majoring in economics and this ratio has not changed for more than 20 years. (See the “Background Facts” section for more detailed information.) We believe that the relative lack of women in economics needs to be addressed.

(Video courtesy of the American Economic Association.)

The primary purpose of the Challenge is to raise awareness of the underrepresentation of undergraduate women in economics. Beyond that, it is an experiment to test the effectiveness of a deliberate intervention strategy by an economics department to recruit and retain female majors. Although there is not just one explanation for why gender differences persist, our Board of Experts from across the country met in November 2014 and identified several common causes of the problem across institutions. We now invite economics departments around the country to join in this initiative. 

This summer, the American Economic Association produced a video with the aim of showing students who are evaluating career options in economics or may have wondered what types of professionals utilize economics in various fields that economics can be applied to more than just banking and consulting. The AEA and the UWE encourage educators in high school and college to show this video to their students, to begin introducing them to the many diverse areas which employ the tools of economics.

The Challenge is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation through the National Bureau of Economic Research and is endorsed by the American Economic Association. The project is administered by Tatyana Avilova (current PhD Student at Columbia University).



Third Annual UWE Conference at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

April 6-8, 2018 the Univeristy of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the illini Women in Economics (iWiE) Club organized and hosted the Third Annual UWE Conference. The event was attended by more than sixty students and faculty from institutions participating in the initiative. Conference sessions included a keynote address by Lisa Barrow of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a career panel with UIUC Department of Economics alumna, case study sessions, and, new this year, research presentations by participants on intervention impact over the past three years. 

For more information, please see our new UWE Conferences page


Presentation at the 2018 ASSA Annual Meeting

Claudia Goldin and Tatyana Avilova will be giving a presentation on the UWE Challenge (titled "What Can UWE Do for Economics?") at the Annual Meeting for the American Economic Association. The presentation is part of the Gender Issues in Economics paper session on Friday, January 5, 2018.