Committee Spotlight: Q&A with the CSQIEP Co-Chairs M. V. Lee Badgett and Christopher Carpenter
M. V. Lee Badgett is a Professor of Economics and co-director of the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Christopher Carpenter is the E. Bronson Ingram Chair and University Distinguished Professor of Economics as well as the director of the LGBTQ+ Policy Lab and the Program in Public Policy Studies at Vanderbilt University. They serve together as co-chairs of the Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession. Below, they answer some questions about the committee's mission and activities.
The Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession (CSQIEP) was established as a full AEA committee in June of 2019. The mission is to provide support for LGBTQ+ economists and economic research relevant to LGBTQ+ populations. How has interest grown since the committee was established?
Interest has grown considerably since the committee was established, but the history goes back a bit further than that. Our efforts began back at the ASSA meeting in 2015 in San Francisco where the AEA sponsored a breakfast for LGBTQ+ economists to gauge the level of interest within the AEA for such a group. We were pleasantly surprised when about 50 people showed up to that first breakfast. Shortly after that the AEA convened an Ad Hoc Working Group which entailed a breakfast or lunch business meeting at the annual meetings as well as a newsletter for our community to describe the latest research and highlight LGBTQ+ economists. In 2019 we were voted an official AEA committee, and every year we have made consistent progress in growing the committee and its activities to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ economists throughout the profession and at all levels, including PhD students and, increasingly, undergraduates. Every year our rooms are a little fuller, the Google group grows to involve more people, and we have more and more diverse voices contributing input to our activities. It has been wonderful to watch the growth since that 2015 breakfast in San Francisco!
What kinds of challenges does the committee face in its current work?
There are certainly some challenges that we face in our work, though we try to think of them as opportunities for growth. One challenge is convincing economists—including LGBTQ+ economists—that there is work to be done. Some LGBTQ+ senior folks have voiced that the climate issue isn't that bad from their perspective, so the AEA's survey on professional climate was critically important for putting hard numbers behind the stories of discrimination, harassment, and general lack of feeling welcome in the profession reported by LGBTQ+ folks. A related challenge we face is that—as a society—the younger folks are increasingly the ones embracing LGBTQ+ identities. This is wonderful, but it does create some challenges with finding enough senior mentors who can provide their experience, perspective, and context from many years in the profession. There are also particular challenges facing LGBTQ+ economists who also share other marginalized identities, for example, related to race, gender, ability status, access to resources, and other dimensions. We have ample room for growth in all of these areas.
What particular resources or programs would you want to highlight and what advice would you give to those studying the field?
One challenge facing many people who might want to study or do research on LGBTQ+ populations is a shortage of high quality data. Few surveys have included direct questions, and there are meaningful questions about data quality for those surveys that do allow direct or indirect identification of sexual and/or gender minority status. We are really proud that we have curated a list of major datasets relevant for economists that have allowed identification of sexual and gender minorities in the United States, and increasingly, worldwide. We have made this data resource publicly available to the AEA and research community by posting it on the CSQIEP website, and we update the dataset regularly. The hope is that for undergraduate honors students or for PhD economists wondering where to find basic data on LGBTQ+ people, this data resource will give them a good place to start. In combination with some recent publications describing the state of economics research on LGBTQ+ people, we hope that this will spur more calls for inclusion of sexual and gender minority status into major survey and administrative datasets and will increase the set of economists working on these topics.
CSQIEP holds a weekly virtual seminar series on the economics of LGBTQ+ individuals each Tuesday. What topics will be covered in upcoming seminars and how can people sign up? Also, are recorded versions available online?
We welcome economists at all levels to the virtual online seminar, which was conceived, created, and is hosted each week by CSQIEP committee member Mike Martell. Much of the Fall semester lineup is dedicated to giving LGBTQ+ identified job market candidates working in any field a chance to present their work in a supportive online forum filled with economists from all different fields and backgrounds. The other weeks of the seminar—and most of the Spring series—are dedicated to research papers directly relevant to LGBTQ+ people, and there is no requirement that the authors or presenters of those papers be LGBTQ+ identified. Most of the audience is LGBTQ+ identified and/or works on these topics, so it has become a very nice community of scholars who meet regularly to support one another, learn about the latest work in this area, and provide feedback to ensure that research about our communities is appropriately sensitive to our lived experiences. The seminars are generally not recorded, and individuals can sign up through a link on the CSQIEP website or by emailing Mike Martell directly. Please note that everyone is welcome at the seminar (including allies) and that there is no requirement that participants use their real names or turn on their cameras, so it is a safe space for folks who may not be open about some of their identities.
A new annual award has been created for Outstanding Research in LGBTQ+ Economics. Who is the inaugural award winner? When will nominations open for the next award and who is eligible?
We just announced the winner of the inaugural award in January 2022 at CSQIEP's virtual business meeting. A separately convened, independent group of LGBTQ+ economists voted a paper led by Karinna Saxby, PhD candidate at the Centre for Health Economics at Monash University, as the winner. Karinna's paper was titled "Structural stigma and sexual orientation disparities in healthcare use: Evidence from Australian Census-linked-administrative data." Nomination guidelines for the next award will be announced soon and will be due in Fall 2022, with a winner announced at the ASSA 2023 annual business meeting in New Orleans. Any paper on LGBTQ+ topics published in 2021 or 2022 will be eligible.
How can one get involved with CSQIEP? What are the best ways for people to help?
The best way to get involved with CSQIEP is to join our Google group to find out about our various activities. If you’d like to learn more about research, attending our weekly online seminars is a great way to do that. If you would like to meet other LGBTQ+ economists, find us at major conferences! We will have a large presence at the AEA/ASSA meetings in New Orleans in January 2023, and we have also increased the number of mid-year meet-up events at regional conferences. For example, in the past year we had social events/happy hours at Midwest Economic Association, Southern Economic Association, and Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and we will have events upcoming at the Economic Sciences Association. If you would like to host an event for the main conference in your field that is not listed here, please reach out to us as there are modest funds available for such events, with the goal of building a community of LGBTQ+ economists. Also, if you are able to help out with other key initiatives—we are an entirely volunteer-run organization—please email the committee co-chairs with your personal passions, whether it be mentoring, social activities, working on a newsletter, or some other new initiative we have not yet done. Finally, if you are an ally, please recognize that we need you! There are far more allies in the economics profession than there are LGBTQ+ individuals in the economics profession, and much of our progress has been directly because allies have made sure we had a voice and a seat at the table, for which we are very grateful.
The committee is on Twitter at @LGBTQ_Econ and there is also a CSQIEP Google group as well as a Newsletter that you can subscribe to. Are those the best way to stay up-to-date on committee activities?
Yes, those are the best ways. Please also check out our website, which is updated periodically with new initiatives. The AEA also recently produced a podcast with Lee Badget highlighting the JEP paper "LGBTQ Economics."