US Federal Reserve official calls for more diversity in economics | US & Canada News

Lael Brainard is considered a frontrunner to be United States President-elect Joe Biden’s Treasury secretary.

Lael Brainard is considered a frontrunner to be United States President-elect Joe Biden’s Treasury secretary.

A United States Federal Reserve official widely considered to be a frontrunner for President-elect Joe Biden’s Treasury secretary is urging universities and government agencies to make the field of economics more inclusive.

Lael Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, noted Tuesday that the economics field is less diverse than other professions, such as law and medicine.

“Diversity and inclusion need to be priorities for every economics department around the country – and for the think-tanks, governments, businesses, and many other organisations that train and employ economists,” she said in prepared remarks delivered online to a Fed recruiting event targeted to college students.

“We need to make it a national goal to catch up to medicine, science, engineering, and other fields,” she added.

Brainard’s comments also come as the economics profession has struggled in recent years to address complaints about gender and racial insensitivity, including at the Federal Reserve itself.

Brainard noted that Black women earned just 1.5 percent of undergraduate economics degrees from 2011 through 2015, far below their 6.2 percent share of all undergraduate degrees.

And women make up 30 percent of those receiving doctorates in economics in 2018, she said, barely changed from 1994, even though women make up more than half of all medical students.

Black and Latino students are also less likely to earn doctorates in economics than they are to receive medical degrees.

Brainard was Treasury under-secretary for international affairs under President Barack Obama and was also an economic adviser to President Bill Clinton.

She has served on the Fed’s board since 2014 and was previously mentioned as a potential treasury secretary if Hillary Clinton had been elected in 2016.

Still, there are others under consideration, including former Fed Chair Janet Yellen, former Fed Vice Chair Roger Ferguson, and Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former member of the Fed’s board.

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