Why are Black Women Missing from Corporate Leadership?

To understand our absence, academic and corporate settings must begin with who enters the pipeline.

How can we best use these financial commitments and newfound attention to address gaps in diversity, equity, and inclusion to upend systemic racism in the corporate world and improve access to these spaces for minoritized groups?


With fewer Black women studying for degrees in these fields, it becomes all the more critical to honor commitments to cultivate and develop a robust pipeline of Black women for corresponding careers during their undergraduate studies, as well as exposing them to these potential careers even earlier in their education.


COVID-19 Effect

Barriers for Black Women in Economics and Related Fields

  • Access to information: A recent paper from Drs. Gary Hoover and Ebonya Washington, co-Chairs of the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Minorities in the Economics Profession, and Amanda Bayer, a Diversity Equity and Inclusion consultant to the Federal Reserve Board, finds students identify that access to more information about careers in economics and what economists do is an asset in recruiting students to the field. Seventy-three percent of Black women who attended the Sadie Collective conference in 2020 shared that they “did not feel prepared for a career in economics”. After attending the conference, which includes skill building workshops and panels, a post-survey showed that 94% of respondents felt more prepared.
  • Discrimination in the field: In ‘It was a Mistake for me to Choose This Field.’ Dr. Lisa D. Cook and Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman analyze the results from a professional climate survey administered by the American Economics Association, the largest organization for economists. The survey revealed that Black women consistently feel the brunt of discrimination in the economics profession. Specifically, Black women take the most measures, on average, to avoid possible harassment, discrimination, or unfair/disrespectful treatment, as compared to white and Asian respondents regardless of gender. Furthermore, 29 percent of Black women reported that they have experienced discrimination in promotion while nearly 40 percent report experiencing discrimination in pay.
  • Lack of role models: According to the American Economic Association, less than 0.4% of those getting PhDs in economics were Black women — it is hard to be what you cannot see. Dr. Danila Sera and her co-authors also found that the role model effect is significant for women in economics. When asked at the Sadie Collective second annual conference “have you ever met a Black women economist?” 33.5% of respondents shared they had not. Moreover, only 2.2% of tenured or tenure-track economics faculty identified as Black in the 2018–2019 academic year.

The Value of The Sadie Collective

While there is some awareness of the problem surrounding representation, there remains not enough collaboration nor financial support for these organizations across institutions, which is key to creating a movement that actively uplifts Black women in these fields while they make their way through the corporate world.

  1. Adopting the Black Women Best Framework: Coined by Janelle Jones, Managing Policy Director at Groundwork Collaborative, “Black Women Best” is a framework that says if we structure the economy in a way that makes sure Black women are doing well — elevating them through policies like paid sick leave or targeted small business funding — the rest of us benefit. Adopting this policy is critical considering that Black women are at the core of our economy and have clearly felt the disproportionate effects of COVID-19.
  2. Allocating Annual Funding for Black Women Led Initiatives That Support The Pipeline: The best way to help Black and Brown women in economics, finance, and math is to create a series of programs — from elementary school all the way into the corporate world — that allow women to be exposed to these fields early on in life and visualize a pathway into a steady career. Too often, underrepresented groups do not get exposed to these subjects and potential careers until college, at which point they may have trouble navigating into academia and the corporate world. Organizations to consider aside from The Sadie Collective include Black Girls in Boardrooms and Corporate in Color.

The Sadie Collective Community



Addressing the pipeline and pathway for Black women in economics & related fields.

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The Sadie Collective

Addressing the pipeline and pathway for Black women in economics & related fields.