Elon economics panel discussion highlights women in economics

The Department of Economics hosted the event with Associate Professor Katy Rouse and Elon alumnae sharing their experiences in the economics field.

Associate Professor of Economics Katy Rouse and alumnae Kaylyn Swankowski ‘11, Abbey Koslow ‘06, Brooke Hunziker ‘18 and Amanda Feldman ‘18 discussed their careers in economics during a panel discussion moderated by economics major Malia Takei ‘22.

Photo of panelists and moderator
Panelists Amanda Feldman ’18, Katy Rouse, Abbey Koslow ’06, moderator Malia Takei ’22, Brooke Hunziker ’18 and Kaylyn Swankowski ’11

The panelists emphasized the breadth of an economics degree and explained how their education helped them achieve a diverse range of post-graduate positions.

“The main advantage of an economics degree is the skill set and tools that can be applied to so many things,” said Rouse, who worked in consulting at Deloitte before going to graduate school. “There is definitely a variety of available options for graduates with an undergraduate degree in economics.”

Feldman, a senior associate in the TMT Sector at EY-Parthenon, shared how her economics education helped lead her to a diversity of roles since graduation and how the jobs “sometimes had nothing to do with economics.” However, Feldman pointed out that in the consulting world, economics tends to be the prevailing major.

The panel, held on International Women’s Day, highlighted the experience of women in economics and the need for diversity in the field. Koslow, a marketing science partner manager at Facebook, touched on the activities that Facebook facilitated to honor International Women’s Day and why diversity matters. “Diversity and inclusion are such an important pillar to our company,” Koslow said. “A team that is diverse is so important. I work with people from the U.S., not from the U.S., women and men. Everyone brings a different perspective.”

“I think probably more than any other discipline, economics touches almost every single aspect of public policy and public policy affects everyone, so you need diverse voices…when you’re making policies so that you get those different perspectives,” Rouse added.

Hunziker, a senior consultant at Cloudmed, drew attention to the field being male-dominated and how that can impact problem solving at her firm. Based on her experience on fully-male and fully-female teams, she noticed a difference in critiquing styles. “Females are more detail oriented, and have to be perfect,” she said. “Males are more big numbers driven, and, ‘Let’s just get that final output.’” Ultimately, Hunziker concluded that the field needs more diversity, and for both men and women to be represented to achieve the best work.

Feldman acknowledged the difference in confidence levels she saw between men and women in her field. She noted the importance in sharing ideas and encouraged the women in the audience to speak up in their classes and jobs rather than remaining quiet in fear of being wrong.

The panelists also shared the following recommendations for economics majors trying to gain a competitive edge in the job market: learn coding, become involved in independent research, and engage in your passions.

Swankowski, a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, encouraged students to be creative with the job application process since there are a wide range of opportunities available.

“Being knowledgeable of your options and how others have been extremely successful in their lives is an immense help when deciding what to do with the rest of your life,” Takei said, reflecting on the value she derived from the panel. “Given the pandemic and chaos with the job market, it was reassuring to hear tips on how to find a job and identify a future career path, while understanding that there is no one set path for people with a B.A. in economics to follow. It was really motivating for me, as a woman, to learn to value my knowledge and the experiences that Elon is offering me.”