5 great quotes from the Women in Economics Retreat

Last week I attended the 2018 Women in Economics Retreat, organised by the Economics Society of Australia Women in Economics Network. It was 2 days in the Southern Highlands with a wonderful group of early and mid-career researchers, led by an amazing selection of mentors.

The attendees worked in a broad range of economics roles, including academia, government and consulting, and came from lots of different backgrounds (lots of closet architects among female economists apparently!) It was fascinating to hear how despite the varied ways we were all using economics, many of us faced the same issues.

I learnt a lot, met great people and came away inspired. Here are 5 great quotes I heard at the retreat, and why they resonated with me:

  1. “Only 13% of economics professors are female … and … 9% of economists or analysts quoted in print media articles are female”. I come from a health background, and work in a centre led by fabulous female role models. These statistics highlight that my experience is not typical in economics, and something really needs to change. I’ll be taking small steps to try to increase the visibility of female economists in my circles.
  2. “Everything is potentially really interesting”. We were talking about the value of having a growth mindset in the workplace, and I really liked the idea that there are opportunities all around us, if we can just adapt our mindset. Just because you don’t like a topic, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy and learn from the methodology, or the team members, or something else about a project.
  3. In the spirit of Tony Jones, I’ll take that as a comment”. Day 2 saw us learning about Communicating with Influence. Rather than the standard media engagement strategies, this was practical advice given by the mentors. This quote was my favourite tip – about how to respond to that typical inappropriate / rambling / self-promoting interrupter in a seminar or conference presentation. I love that it (politely) puts the questioner in their place, while using the cultural reference to Q&A to keep it light and relax the audience. Hopefully I’ll never have to use it, but I feel more confident knowing I’ve got it up my sleeve!
  4. “Done is the engine of more”. As someone who tends toward perfectionism, I’m a big fan of the mantra “Finished, not perfect” as a way to move myself on from tasks which don’t need to be perfect, but do need to be finished. I really like this alternative version because it highlights the benefits of finishing – not only do you get the task you’re working on done, but you can then accomplish more. I’ve printed this and put it on my office wall as a reminder!
  5. “Distract daily, withdraw weekly, abandon annually”. The last session of the retreat was on work/life balance. This was fabulous, with practical and helpful ideas for everyone. Scheduling time to get away from work on a daily, weekly and annual basis makes so much sense, and it was fun and informative to hear how other people do this for themselves (and also really nice to know that I’m not alone in finding balance difficult to achieve!)

There was so much more that I learnt at the retreat, from stress coping styles to becoming good media talent, and from apps to encourage women to ask questions in conference sessions (Whova) to the importance of keeping a positive feedback log. One final thing I wanted to share was the various book recommendations that were suggested at different times over the weekend  – I’ve listed them below.

I would highly recommend the retreat to anyone looking to develop a network of fantastic female economists, or who feels a bit stuck in their career and is wondering what their next move is. Congratulations to the Women in Economics Network for putting on such a great event.

WEN Retreat Recommended Reading List


2018 Women in Economics Retreat (photo credit: Leonora Risse on the Women in Economics Australia Facebook page).