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Student CEO promotes black women in economics

The first annual Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference for black women in economics and related fields will be held in Washington D.C. at Mathematica Policy Research offices later this month. The mission of this conference is to diversify economics and economic-related fields through the education, community and mentorship of black women.

Anna O. Agyeman, a senior math and economics double major, and CEO of the Sadie Collective (the parent organization of the Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference) explained that she became inspired to start this initiative after she attended an economics conference and noticed the utter lack of diversity in the speakers, particularly the underrepresentation black women.

After learning that a significant number of black women do not major in economics and are thus unable to enter the profession in sustainable numbers, Agyeman decided that creating a conference catered towards black women could provide avenues for change. “We are pioneering this space to empower, equip and educate black women,” she said. “We want to show them a broad spectrum of what they can do with a background in economics, and allow them to build community in the profession,” she continued.

The conference itself is named after Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, who was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in economics and the second Black woman to receive a doctoral degree in the United States. In recalling her academic journey, Dr. Alexander said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer that “[she] knew well that the only way [she] could get that door open was to knock it down; because [she] knocked all of them down.” In the same manner, the Sadie Collective hopes to inspire more Black women to break barriers and pursue excellence as aspiring economists.

The conference will comprise of notable speakers, panelists, and recruiters who will provide resources to help attendees overcome challenges in the field. Speakers include Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a labor economist, author and commentator; Dr. Willene A. Johnson, the president of Komaza Inc; Carycruz Bueno, an applied microeconomist; and Sade Ayinde, an innovator and social entrepreneur. The panels will focus on topics such as “How to Help Black Women Succeed in Economics,” “Beyond Undergraduate Opportunities” and “Navigating the Professional Space as a Black Woman.” The event will also provide access to opportunities presented by public and private institutions, such as the Economic Policy Institute, Federal Reserve Board of Governors and University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy.

Agyeman stated that she hopes that the biggest takeaway for attendees is that “they can do the work, and that they can do it well and that they shouldn’t give up on something just because it is hard.” She elaborated that “as women of color, no one really expects you to succeed at a certain level and so it is up to you as well as the community around you to really invest in yourself and to think ahead.”

Set to graduate in May 2019, Agyeman is determined to make her own mark in economics. Within the field, her interests include labor, development and public health within the black diaspora. Upon graduation, Agyeman plans to work with a labor economist in a post-baccalaureate program. Her future aspirations are to work at the intersection of education, economics and politics while continuing her legacy with the Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference.

The first annual conference has reached its maximum capacity of registration and people on the waitlist; however, anyone can tune in to the live-stream of the morning session and keynote lunch. All resources for Black women in economics and economic-related fields will also be shared digitally upon request.