Professor Menna Bizuneh Wins Grant to Explore Shortage of Women of Color Majoring in Economics

Pitzer Professor Menna Bizuneh
Pitzer Professor Menna Bizuneh

Claremont, Calif. (August 14, 2015)— Pitzer College Assistant Professor of Economics Menna Bizuneh received a $6,450 grant from the Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS) for her project “Demystifying the Economics Major Shortage of Women in Minority Groups.” Bizuneh’s research project examines what factors influence undergraduates’ decisions to major in economics. She will explore the role gender plays as well as address discrepancies between the number of women of color in the US and those from other countries who study economics.

In the US, only 29 percent of bachelor’s degrees in economics are awarded to women and only about 12 percent to minorities, according to Harvard University Professor Claudia Goldin. However, much higher percentages of international women of color major in STEM-related fields and economics. Bizuneh wants to know why.

“Is the decision process to major in economics among women with an international background different than that of their American counterparts?” Bizuneh asks. “Are there other factors that drive foreign female students into quantitative-oriented fields that can help American women of color increase their achievements in these fields?”

Bizuneh aims to uncover if the intra-group difference between women of color from America and those from abroad can be explained by elements such as gender balance in the classroom, instructors’ gender and demographic considerations, or if it stems from a difference in K-12 preparation in mathematics and quantitative skills.

An expert in international trade and finance, Menna Bizuneh writes about fixed exchange rates, financial bailouts and monetary unions, and her articles have appeared in the Review of International Economics and Comparative Economic Studies. In 2013, she was awarded a grant from the African Development Bank for her research project “Public Attitude towards the East African Monetary Union.” She received the Theodore C. Boyden Excellence in Teaching Economics Award from Georgia State University in 2011.

Founded in 2000, the Consortium on High Achievement and Success is composed of 31 selective liberal arts colleges and small universities dedicated to promoting high achievement, leadership and personal satisfaction of students on member campuses, with a focus on promoting success among students of color. CHAS is member-supported and hosted by Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

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