Teacher’s push for more women in economics

Striving for change: Lumen teacher Wendy Mockler with her Pastrol Care class. Ms Mockler is hoping to find ways to encourage more women to enroll in economics.
Striving for change: Lumen teacher Wendy Mockler with her Pastrol Care class. Ms Mockler is hoping to find ways to encourage more women to enroll in economics.

Women are dropping out of economics, which means men are running our economy.

But this is something that Lumen Christi teacher Wendy Mockler hopes to change after winning a $15,000 state wide scholarship for her plan to encourage more girls to study economics.

As the school’s economics teacher , Ms Mockley was chosen above all other NSW secondary school, TAFE and university teachers to be awarded the Premiers' Reserve Bank of Australia Scholarship for Economics. 

Her $15,000 grant will towards a study tour based on an active research program she has been working on which looks at different ways of delivering economics. 

“The purpose was to point out that people need to be economically literate and to address the decline in students electing to study economics,” Ms Mockler said.

“Students aren’t picking it because they think it’s dry, elitist and boring. 

“It’s gotten to the stage where some universities have closed their economics departments. In a world that relies on economics that doesn’t bode well.”

Year 12 economic enrolments have declined by almost 70 per cent since 1992 and in 2016, fewer than 10 per cent of Year 12 students in New South Wales studied economics. This is something that Ms Mockler said could be disastrous for the country’s future. 

“If we don’t have economic literacy in the population then we have people making decisions on our behalf without proper public debate,” she said.

“Economics has taken an elitest position and yet economists are behind all our decisions.” 

Less than 40 per cent of HSC economics student are female but this percentage is significantly lower in regional areas.

Ten years ago Ms Mockler’s HSC economics class at Lumen Christi had around 15 students, with an even number of boys and girls. Last year she had one girl in the economics class and this year she has seven students, all of which are male.  

“So why aren’t they picking economics? It’s because they find it to be exclusive and male dominated. There are very few female lecturers and the economic jobs are filled with men. 

“If we can’t get female students to think about studying economics in high school we can’t expect to have women in these elite level positions.”

Ms Mockler said in an ideal world students in Years 7 to 10 would start learning basic economics. 

“We need to start getting students exposed to economics earlier because we need to develop a love for economics so we have a population that is economically literate.

With her scholarship money, Ms Mockler plans to travel to the USA, UK and Singapore in January to look at ways to support teachers to teach economics in new and exciting ways and promote a line of sight for students to consider a career in economics. 

But putting economics aside, Ms Mockler said she hopes winning this prize will inspire her students. 

“It’s great for all our students to know that although we are in this tiny part of NSW, we can still be part of a national conversation.

“As teachers we always have to lead the way, this isn’t just about economics, it’s about being part of the discussion about issues that affect us all.”