Women in Economics and Business

Women in Economics and Business

April 14, 2011


Minnu Paul ’11 is looking forward to a unique opportunity to network with DePauw alumnae over the next two days. Women in Economics and Business (WEB) is hosting its first reunion for DePauw students and alumnae April 15-16, 2011. For a complete schedule of events, please click here.

WEB is a program designed by Mary P. Dixon, professor of economics and management, to support and encourage women studying economics at DePauw. The two-day event not only includes panels of accomplished alumnae and faculty members in economics and business but also showcases several students’ not-for-profit projects – including Paul’s work building a clinic in Haiti.

94065“It will be a great opportunity to talk to women who once sat in the same classroom as me,” Paul says. “I’m looking forward to the panels and talking to the alumnae about their career paths. There are so many misconceptions about women in business – what women can and can’t do. The alumnae will say that anything is possible, and that will give me hope.”

(Photo above was taken at WEB's Intern For A Day Program: Shadow an Economics and Management Alumna over Fall Break 2010.)

Dixon received a fellowship three years ago to address the question “Why are there so few women who enter economics as a discipline at DePauw when half of the faculty members in the Economics Department are women and 60 percent of DePauw students are women?”

After finding that some of her students felt isolated in economics classes because there are so few women, Dixon formed the student group Women in Economics and Business. She piloted monthly meetings and invited alumnae to share their experiences of life after DePauw. “I decided that if the role models in the classroom weren't enough, then I’d bring them it in from somewhere else,” Dixon says.

The culminating experience of the fellowship is the reunion. “I originally intended it just to be economics majors who are alumnae, but I learned there are alumnae who weren’t majors but feel an affinity to this group. So, everyone is welcome. The issues that we’re going to talk about at the reunion resonate with all women,” Dixon says.

DePauw President Brian W. Casey and Sarah R. Wallace ’76, chair of the DePauw Board of Trustees, host the opening session. They will talk about creating effective work relationships by sharing strategies and techniques that they have found to be useful in their careers. Dixon is very excited about this event and thinks it will be a fabulous way to kick off the reunion.

“The first session on Saturday focuses on celebrating our students – who are doing really innovative and exciting things on their own,” Dixon says. “There is a lot of not-for-profit entrepreneurship at DePauw. Minnu Paul, who is from India, is working to build a healthcare clinic in Haiti – an idea that developed from a Winter Term experience she had in hospital management in Lebanon, Ind. She combined her Winter Term experience with an independent study project on development with Professor Ophelia Goma to develop a plan for the clinic. She has the land, funding and is working on a building. She just started in January 2010.

Emily M. Reavis ’12 will present her work with Special Olympics and Best Buddies. She is concerned about the lack of job and educational opportunities for adults with special needs. "DePauw students have an entrepreneurial spirit,” Dixon says. “They say, ‘I recognize this need. I’m not going to complain about it, but I’m going to do something about it.’ That attitude – of doing – is so inspiring for our alums to see.”

As part of WEB, Dixon and her students have been working on a financial impact study of the Shepherd Center in Indianapolis, which they will present on Saturday. “The center is in one of the most impoverished areas of the city,” Dixon says. “Their mission is to eradicate poverty through education and healthcare.”

94066Mike T. Smith '99, member of the McDermond Center for Management & Entrepreneurship Board of Directors, has worked with the center for many years. He called Dixon to share his concern about the future of the center. “He said that as the government’s revenue sources are depleted, more and more governments are going to look to not-for-profits for revenue stream,” Dixon says. “They (not-for-profit organizations) don’t pay property taxes and still receive the same services of police and fire protection. One of the things being discussed is charging not-for-profits for those fundamental services of fire and police protection.

“Mike said if that were to happen, many of their dollars would be diverted away from their primary purpose. He asked me if I could help them quantify the value of what they’re doing to show the impact the center is having on the city.”

Dixon formed a team of 10 students to take on the project. “There is a health group team and an education team. The work that the Shepherd Center is doing is so amazing, and the way that can energize the student group makes it a much bigger project. The students are looking forward to sharing their work.”

Through WEB, Dixon hopes that students will see that they can be successful even if they never receive a paycheck. “There are skills and techniques that students learn at DePauw that they are going to use in meaningful and powerful ways. It doesn’t have to mean that they’re going to be a CEO of a company. That’s one way; but not the only way. An economics background can help you even if you never plan to be in the business world.”

Dixon’s fellowship is funded through Richard “Dick” A. Warne’s '54 generous gift. “When I was the director of The McDermond Center for Management & Entrepreneurship, I got to know Dick, now retired executive of Eli Lilly and Company. His passion is homelessness. He has worked with the Salvation Army and others to try to alleviate and reduce poverty,” Dixon says. “It’s so wonderful because one of the houses in Rector Village is named for him and his wife, Jane (Leahy) ’54. The fact that there is a place, a home for students when he is so interested in homelessness is great.

“It brings everything full circle. For me, my fellowship is much more meaningful because of the connection to Dick. He paid it forward, and now I’m trying to pay it forward. The students will pay it forward, and anyone who gets touched in the Haitian clinic or Shepherd Center will do the same. So, it becomes so much bigger, and that’s very rewarding.”