A critical mission of the Cook Center is training the next generation of scholars in the social sciences, with a focus on economics as it undergirds and informs most of the research at the Center. This mission could not thrive without the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE), which began in 2008 in response to the gross underrepresentation of minority economists (particularly Black, Latinx, and native American economists) in the ranks of university faculty.
Through mentoring and workshops, DITE aids the transition from junior faculty status to associate professor for economists from these underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Since its inception, DITE has assisted fourteen cohorts of early and mid-career professors of economics advance toward tenure. Of the 101 past fellows, thirty-one now have tenure; notably, two are deans, four are department chairs, five are center directors, and two are full professors. There are now distinguished professors among the past fellows as well.
The 14th cohort of the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics Fellowship Program at their conference at Duke University on August 18-20, 2022.
Diversity in Economics
In 2015 the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that only 6 percent of full-time faculty are Black and 5 percent are Latino, and these numbers are lower in economics. Similarly, a 1994 study found that there were eleven Black economists teaching at the nation’s twenty-five highest-ranked universities; a 2006 study identified thirteen such individuals, many of whom were the same individuals canvassed in the 1994 study. Given the lack of underrepresented & minority (URM) professors of economics, both the academy and society lose more when any one of these scholars drops out of the tenure pipeline. DITE is designed to help URM faculty of economics decode the academy; demystify the promotion and tenure process; and identify, develop, and leverage a research program in route to an effective tenure placement. As the tenure system aims to protect academic freedom, securing it is crucial to prevent the loss of human capital and diversity.
How the Program Works
DITE provides its fellows sustained mentorship from distinguished professors of economics and vertical integration into research projects. Via DITE’s assistance with establishing a research program and a publishing and service record, as well as building connections with distinguished and supportive mentors who are willing to share their professional networks, experience, and guidance.
DITE is open to any junior faculty members holding doctorates in economics. Each year, DITE matches up to twelve junior scholars with six senior faculty mentors.
The faculty in my DITE cohort have become trusted colleagues and friends. I deeply enjoy the intellectual space that DITE creates where we can discuss ideas in a rigorous and thoughtful way with other scholars who feel like family.
I was very fond of my time in DITE, I got to meet SO many scholars (peers and mentors) that I would have otherwise never met. These people are not in awesome positions and doing really cool stuff in the profession, and I’m just fortunate to have met them and receive lots of help from them. I’m thankful for the opportunity!
I credit Sandy Darity with the foresight to recognize the fundamental need among early-career scholars of color for the support provided by a cadre of senior mentors. There was a compelling case for this when DITE began, and there remains a compelling case that it must continue into the future.
My experience with DITE deepened my understanding of the roadblocks that the tenure process erects in the professional path of academics of color, and believe that the experience made me a better Chair of Department when I was called upon to serve.
DITE was the single most important factor in obtaining tenure for me. The meetings and mentorship showed what a successful package was and helped me craft my academic story.
Being involved in DITE (Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics) has provided me with much greater experience and knowledge about the tenure process in academia than ever before, as well as improving my networking skills. I have also become a mentor to the junior members in my profession and that is a truly incredible opportunity for reflecting.
I would not be where I am professionally without DITE. I attended the program one year before going up for tenure. Not only did I learn about all stages of preparing your tenure packet, but I was able to network with both rising and established scholars. I met Vicki Bogan of Cornell University at the conference. An occurrence that would not have happened otherwise. Since this meeting, Vicki and I have become co-authors. We have already published a paper conceived at the DITE conference and are currently working on a second. Rhonda Sharpe and Sandy Darity have also gone out of their way to find letter writers to support my case for tenure. The DITE conference also instilled in the fellows a sense of stewardship. DITE took great effort in helping earn tenure and giving me advice when becoming department chair. In turn, I have dedicated much of my service to diversifying economics. Since the conference, I have become the President of the American Society of Hispanic Economists and am serving my second term on the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession of the American Economic Association. DITE does more than simply help people earn tenure. DITE produces the future leaders of our discipline.
DITE has supported me in many ways. One way that comes to mind, outside of helping me reach tenure, was giving me my own subscription to STATA. I use STATA and it was such a gift to have the latest version at that time since I could not afford it on my own.
DITE helped me to get further plugged in to a group of economist invested in inclusion in the profession, both peers and mentors. Having mentors outside of my home institution was particularly invaluable in getting feedback on my work, getting tips on the job market, and even getting a letter of recommendation when I went on the market. I finally got tenure in 2021, in part thanks to the support I got from the DITE network.
DITE is an amazing program that not only facilitates networking but also provides exceptional mentorship opportunities. Through the program, I had the privilege of meeting one of my coauthors and connecting with a diverse community of like-minded individuals. The mentorship provided by experienced mentors has been invaluable, offering guidance, knowledge, and support that have greatly contributed to my personal and professional growth. I am grateful for the opportunities DITE has provided and the impact it has had on my career.
Recent Appointments and Article Placements
DITE fellows have placed papers in the following highly-regarded journals across the economics field and other disciplines:
American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings
Economic Development and Cultural Change
Economic Inquiry, Journal of Economic History
Journal of Development Economics
Journal of Development Studies
Journal of Econometrics
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Journal of Human Resources
Review of Finance
Review of Economics and Statistic
American Journal of Public Health (Epidemiology)
American Sociological Review (Sociology)
In recent years, DITE fellows have earned appointments at Duke, Harvard University, Howard University, New College of Florida, Spelman College, and elsewhere.
Contact and Application Information
Applications accepted on a rolling basis. If you are interested in applying, please email a statement of interest and a current CV to Gwen Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org). Additional materials and information may be required.
DITE is supported by the National Science Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.