I was forced to confront this limitation during my first year of college, when I was required to take two introductory economics courses. I was petrified, crippled by the horror stories older students shared about their experiences with economics. I studied all summer for the math placement exam and mentally prepared to fail the course. In my mind, it was irrefutable, unquestionable, and absolutely unavoidable that I would fail miserably. To my disbelief, I passed the class. Actually, I did more than pass; I got an A. I thought surely this was a fluke- I was convinced I would fail the preceding economics course. The following semester, I got another A.
The idea that I was intelligent and hard-working enough to excel in these math-based economics courses rocked the very foundation of my self-esteem. I had been taught since my childhood that math was something to fear- and that I should just stick to reading and writing.
These introductory classes changed the course of my life. They were both taught by the same professor, Dr. Irene Foster. The following year, she let me work as a learning assistant (which is sort of like an undergraduate TA) for her course: Mathematics for Economics. I met so many other women my age who felt the same way I had felt. That women aren’t “math people” and that courses involving math weren’t something we were meant to excel in.
Following my realization that I had the potential to excel in math, I decided to fully pursue a degree in economics. While completing my degree, I continued to witness the barriers and lack of opportunities women face in my field. For this reason, I began my work in uplifting the voices of other women as president of GW Women in Economics. Leading this organization has been the most rewarding part of my senior year. The women that I have met through this organization are absolutely incredible- the smartest, most hardworking women I’ve ever met! It has been quite difficult navigating such a young organization during such unprecedented times, and I couldn’t have done it without the fantastic women on our executive board. I’m so excited to see where this organization goes in the future!
Madeline De Quillacq is a current senior completing a Bachelor of Science in Economics and International Affairs with a concentration in international economics. Aside from serving as president of GW Women in Economics, she is a research assistant at the GW Institute for International Economic Policy and an intern at the Reshoring Institute.