The OARES at 70: Reflections on Contributions to DEIB

The Online Agricultural and Resource Economics Seminar (OARES), which I co-organize with Marc Bellemare, has now facilitated 70 presentations. Starting in May 2020, as COVID-19 lockdowns set in and in-person components of academic life stalled, the OARES has persisted for four semesters and one summer. Marc and I thought that it was time to pause and reflect on the OARES, to date. This reflection is both for our own benefit as we imagine what the future of the OARES might look like, but also to report some descriptive statistics based on the first 70 presentations in the OARES.

So, Marc and I wrote a paper, which is available here. This paper is, for the time being, a working paper. So, we would appreciate any comments or feedback anyone may have. Here is the abstract:

In May 2020, in the early days of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we launched the Online Agricultural and Resource Economics (OARES) seminar in an effort to maintain a semblance of normalcy for scholars in the field of agricultural and applied economics. The goal of the OARES was to break down the privilege barrier in two ways: (i) by featuring for the most part research by junior, female, or minority scholars, and (ii) by bringing frontier research to those who may not have had access to a regular seminar series prior to the pandemic. Against those goals, we discuss the contribution of the OARES to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in agricultural and applied economics.

In the paper, we list and discuss four motivating facts about the state of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in agricultural and applied economics. These include the following:

  1. Economics has a “leaky pipeline.”
  2. Economics is unwelcoming and hostile.
  3. Gender gaps persist in employment prestige and quality.
  4. Seminars lack diversity.

We also list and discuss seven lessons learned, based on our reflections of the first 70 presentations in the OARES. These lessons include the following:

  1. There is a demand for a diverse seminar series.
  2. There is no diversity–merit trade-off.
  3. While consistency is important, people can and do adapt.
  4. Attendance is unrelated to research topic area.
  5. Attendance follows seasons.
  6. Marginal benefit exceeds marginal cost.
  7. Fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging by building community.

Finally, to the best of our ability, we list the publication outcome of previous OARES presentations. The outcomes are impressive. Obviously, based on endogenous selection criteria, we cannot attribute the publication success of these papers to their inclusion in the OARES. Instead, credit goes directly to the authors for publishing excellent papers.

Again, if you have time to read this working paper, please send us any comments or feedback. The OARES is fundamentally a community-based project and we look forward to engaging with the OARES community through these reflections.

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