Atlanta-based liberal arts Spelman College has received a grant to increase the number of black women enrolling for Ph.D. in economics.

The grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the school’s Department of Economics will develop curriculum and programming to address the scarcity of African-American women in economics-related professions.

The department will organize a new distinguished speaker series for students enrolled in various degree programs across the college that will focus on alumnae and other women of color, who hold doctoral degrees in economics.

“Economists and economic theory impact virtually every aspect of policy making in this country. Policies that shape finance, labor, education, public health, the criminal justice system are deeply influenced by economists and their research. Yet, the number of African Americans with Ph.D.s in economics has been declining for several decades,” said college president Mary Schmidt Campbell.

Campbell further said that less than 10 percent of underrepresented minorities are awarded advanced degrees in economics. Studies have attributed the low number of African American students enrollment to various factors including the high-level math knowledge required to excel, and a perception that economics is a dry subject.

“This groundbreaking grant from the Sloan Foundation seeks to reverse this trend by building on Spelman College’s strong mathematics and economics departments in a way that encourages more students to choose an academic path that leads to graduate studies, a Ph.D. in economics and a voice at important policy making decisions,” Campbell added.

A part of the grant will be used to extend financial support to students interested in economics graduate programs and to develop learning modules focused on economics for its annual summer bridge program.

Economics Students Pen Letter Over Harassment and Discrimination