Dr. Alexandra Bernasek takes over as Interim Chair of the Department of Economics

Alex Bernasek 2016Dr. Alexandra Bernasek takes over as Interim Chair of the Department of Economics.
On July 1, 2016 I became Interim Department Chair. This will be my 25th year in the economics department at CSU. I arrived as a new PhD from the University of Michigan in 1992 when I was hired as an Assistant Professor. I was promoted to Associate Professor in 1998 and to Full Professor in 2004. I took a short break from the department serving as Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts, 2005-2008, and as Associate Provost in the Spring of 2009. In 2009 I returned to the department and eventually took on the role of Graduate Coordinator. Taking on the role of department chair is an exciting new challenge for me.
In my early years here I taught a lot of Principles Micro, what was then the first graduate course in Micro (ECON 506), and undergraduate and graduate courses in Economic Development. The first new course I developed was ECON 211 Gender in the Economy. Over the years I’ve taught many different courses, adding the History of Economic Thought at the undergraduate and graduate levels to my course menu. Just last spring I taught a graduate political economy seminar in Feminist Economics; something I have been wanting to do since I first came to the department.
My research has almost exclusively had a gendered focus from a feminist perspective. I have been fortunate to have great colleagues in the department with whom I have been able to collaborate. My collaboration with Dr. Nancy Jianakoplos was particularly productive and enjoyable. Our most notable paper “Are Women More Risk Averse?” published in Economic Inquiry in 1998 has been cited more than 1200 times according to Google Scholar. I continued to be involved in research on gender and entrepreneurship and gender risk taking. More recent collaborations with a colleague in women’s studies involve the application of the power, privilege difference framework to understanding how value is conflated with hegemonic norms of whiteness and maleness in academia.
One of the aspects of my job as a professor that I love is giving talks both within and outside of the university. Over the years I have given talks on the economic status of women and girls, microcredit, the minimum wage, just wages, single payer health insurance, pay equity, and gender and risk taking. In addition to that one of my main service activities is serving on the President’s Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty (SCSWF). On the committee we engage in research based advocacy for advancing women faculty at CSU.
I am excited about a number of initiatives being undertaken and being contemplated, in the department. I will just mention two at the undergraduate level. The Undergraduate Women in Economics (UWE) initiative in conjunction with Claudia Goldin at Harvard is going into its second year and there a lot of enthusiasm around our efforts to increase women’s representation among our undergraduate majors. Discussions are progressing on including economics as a concentration in a new Data Science interdisciplinary undergraduate major. That would provide students interested in economics with the skills to work in the world of “Big Data”.
There are lots of exciting things happening in the department and we will be sharing information about them with you on our website, in newsletters, and via social media. We are particularly interested in connecting and reconnecting with our undergraduate and graduate alumni; please let us know how you are and what you are doing.
With best wishes,