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Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

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Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT professors use female influencers to teach economics concepts in new research paper

Kara Hawley
Olivia Rodrigo

A pair of UT economics professors helped publish a collaborative paper guiding educators to better explain economic concepts to Generation Z.

The paper, written by University of Texas at Austin professors Dirk Mateer and Wayne Geerling, as well as University of Tampa professor Stefani Milovanska-Farrington, covers four female influencers for educators to use as an example for students, as opposed to traditional methods that could be less engaging.

The four women focused on in the paper are Addison Rae, Kylie Jenner, Olivia Dunne and Olivia Rodrigo, with each acting as a guide for economics educators to explain their success. Each influencer’s section of the paper includes learning objectives, materials to research her success and possible questions educators could ask to relate her success to economics.

“We were just talking about how hard it is to reach Gen Z with examples that are dependent upon stories about the economy or famous economists,” Mateer said. “They’re all geared toward millennials and people that are older, (like) professors.”

Mateer said in the early processes of writing the paper, the professors asked their students to name successful entrepreneurs around their age. When the professors discovered that most of the entrepreneurs mentioned were female, they decided to focus the whole paper on female influencers.

“Some female influencers that we talk about in the paper are very successful entrepreneurs,” Milovanska-Farrington said. “They run very successful businesses, and if their stories serve as an inspiration for women to work hard and to believe that they can be successful in their careers, even careers that are underrepresented by women, then that influencer culture could have a positive impact on women.”

While focusing on female influencers happened by chance, Mateer said the underrepresentation of women in economics is an issue that should be addressed.

“About 30% of our faculty in (economics) are female, and 60% of our undergraduate students across the country are female,” Mateer said. “We have a lot of females out there, and economies are just not attracting them.”

Mateer credits Milovanska-Farrington for leading the way on the project, and he hopes the paper will make a difference in the long run by encouraging more female representation in the field.

“(Geerling) and I may not be female, but we feel the same way about making sure that this happens in an economic sense and that we break down these barriers,” Mateer said.

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About the Contributor
Kara Hawley, Senior Photographer
Kara Hawley is a Journalism senior from San Antonio, Texas. She is a senior photographer.