• Member Announcement
  • September 17, 2020

AEA Member Announcements: AEA Initiatives for Diversity and Inclusion (September 17, 2020)


To: Members of the American Economic Association
From: Janet Yellen, President
Subject: AEA Initiatives for Diversity and Inclusion 

The American Economic Association is committed to the continued improvement of the professional climate in economics. Over the summer, Peter Rousseau and I conferred with Ebonya Washington and Gary Hoover (AEA Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession), Judy Chevalier (AEA Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession), Lee Badgett and Kitt Carpenter (AEA Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession), Marianne Bertrand (AEA Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Professional Conduct), Amanda Bayer (AEA Task Force on Best Practices), and Sam Allgood and KimMarie McGoldrick (AEA Task Force on Outreach) to discuss further actions the Association can take to promote diversity and inclusion in our profession, and I am pleased to announce, in cooperation with these committees, the launch of several new initiatives in support of this goal.

AEA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion. This annual award will recognize departments and organizations that demonstrate outstanding achievement in diversity and inclusion practices. Focus will be on those applicants that take productive steps to establish new programs and procedures to create an inclusive environment, and to increase the participation of underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals. The award is open to all U.S. based departments of economics and other organizations employing significant numbers of economists, and there will be up to four winners per year.

Departmental Seed Grants for Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion. These grants, in amounts up to $5,000, will be awarded to economics departments to help establish new bridge programs or training programs for underrepresented minorities (URM).  For example, a department might create a mentoring program for URM graduate or undergraduate students, create opportunities for URM students to do meaningful research assistant work, or start a program allowing URM students who need additional preparation for graduate school to take a lighter class load in the first year or to take core economics courses over two years. There will be up to four grant recipients per year.  

The Andrew Brimmer Undergraduate Essay PrizeThanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, this paper prize has been established in honor of Andrew Brimmer, the first African American to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The annual award will be presented to an undergraduate student at a U.S. based institution of higher learning majoring in economics, political science, public policy, or related fields for the best essay on the “economic well-being of Black Americans.”  The winner will receive a check for $1,000 and a plaque from the president of the AEA. 

URM Travel Grants. This award is open to junior economics faculty members from traditionally underrepresented groups in the economics profession. The grants will advance career and professional development by defraying the costs of travel, lodging, and conference registration to attend the annual ASSA meeting.  Each award will cover up to $1,000 for eligible expenses and up to ten grants will be awarded each year.

Small Group Breakfast Meeting for URM.  Each year, at the ASSA Meeting, there will be a breakfast held with scholars from underrepresented minorities and prominent economists in attendance.  The goal is to allow URM scholars access to AEA journal editors, executive board members, thought leaders in specific areas of economics, or other economists for the purpose of addressing issues of access to journals, conferences and networks that are often out of reach for URM scholars. Participants at the breakfast will be limited to 20.

For more details and information regarding how to apply for any of these initiatives, please visit https://www.aeaweb.org/go/diversity-initiatives.

To learn more about contributions that individuals can make in support of these goals, please see the recent article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives by Amanda Bayer, Gary A. Hoover, and Ebonya Washington titled "How You Can Work to Increase the Presence and Improve the Experience of Black, Latinx, and Native American People in the Economics Profession". Please also encourage your colleagues to adopt the AEA's "Best Practices for Economists Building a More Diverse, Inclusive, and Productive Profession" and to link to these practices from your departmental websites.

We consider these initiatives another important step in helping make our field accessible and welcoming to anyone with the interest and ability to make a career in it. Please help us share this information throughout the profession so we can all work together and continue to improve.