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 aimed at fulfilling 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.

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. 

The official intervention year for the Challenge ran through the 2015-16 academic year. Students who were exposed to the various interventions will have begun to graduate as early as Spring 2018. We are currently in the process of collecting administrative and enrollment data from the treatment and control institutions involved in our project. We hope to be abe to share the final results of our study soon. In the meantime, you can see our preliminary work in our NBER Working Paper as well as in the AEA Papers and Proceedings

The Challenge is generously 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). You may also follow us on Twitter, @WomenInEcon


Annual UWE Conference update

UWE 2016 conference

First Annual UWE Challenge Student Conference, April 2016, hosted at the University of Virginia

As the UWE Challenge is heading into the final assessment stage for the RCT, we are also looking to expand our outreach and to share the knowledge that we have gained over the course of this project with institutions beyond our select 20 schools. Although we will not be hosting a conference in the Spring 2019, we hope to host an event at the start of the Fall 2019. Please watch this page and our Twitter (@WomenInEcon) for updates. 

For more information on past conferences, please see our new UWE Conferences page