Womxn in Economics strives to empower non-male students at NU and beyond


Photo courtesy of Madeleine Foutes

Prof. Sara Hernández-Saborit gives a talk on gender economics in Winter Quarter. The event, hosted by Womxn in Economics, was one of the club’s highlights of the year.

Moises Attie, Reporter

Through a peer study program and events throughout the year, Northwestern’s Womxn in Economics seeks to uplift and empower students of underrepresented genders in economics. 

“At NU, women make up just 37% of economics undergraduates and 24% of students seeking economics Ph.D.s,” Christy Anderson, an economics department assistant director of administration, told The Daily in March 2021

The organization hosts multiple events throughout the school year with the objective to build community and support, said Weinberg junior Madeleine Foutes, a co-president of the group.

One of the club’s events this year was a talk by economics Prof. Sara Hernández-Saborit about the experiences of women in higher education studying economics. Hernández-Saborit’s research emphasizes the intersection ​​between labor and gender economics, she said.

Womxn in Economics started about three years ago, according to Weinberg junior and Co-President Rowan Lapi. However, the club shifted its values and policies to be more inclusive about a year ago: rather than having an intense application process, the new executive board opted to welcome any interested NU students. 

“All you have to do is put your email on the Listserv or phone number in our GroupMe,” Foutes said. “We welcome anyone.” 

The decision marked a new era for the organization, as the group recently celebrated its first anniversary from the date of its relaunch.

Foutes said one of the group’s main initiatives is the Study Buddies program, which matches peers to support each other in classes.

The club started the program in spring 2021, recognizing the pandemic made it more challenging for members to connect with one another, said Weinberg sophomore Emma Chiu, the club’s director of communications. Chiu has been running the program since fall 2021 and has been working to improve its operations to keep up with demand and the return to in-person classes.

“We’ve expanded a lot, both in scope and in the way the program operates,” Chiu said.

Starting Winter Quarter, the program began to take preferences like time commitment and group size into account to connect students with more compatible study buddies, Chiu said. The groups usually consist of two students, but some core classes may have up to eight peers, Foutes said. 

Weinberg junior Maya Gorman said she enjoys participating in the Study Buddies program.

“It was nice to be able to hang out with someone, meet someone and talk to someone new, but also be able to feel productive and study,” Gorman said.

Lapi said in her time at NU, she’s felt the University has made an effort to include people of all genders in economics, a field that has traditionally been male-dominated.

She said she’s optimistic about the increase in gender diversity in STEM beyond NU as well.

“It’s important to provide a network and support for women — which is obviously what our club really sets out to do,” Lapi said. “Overall, it’s nice to see the trend becoming more normalized that women are taking up space within these fields, and it’s normal for a woman to become an econ major or do something in STEM.”

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Twitter: @moiattie

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A previous version of this article misrepresented the amount of time Emma Chiu has run the Study Buddies program. She has run the program since Fall 2021, not Spring 2021. The Daily regrets the error.