Economics Department Hires First Female Full Professor

UT economics professor Sandra BlackUT’s Department of Economics has hired its first female full professor, the University announced Wednesday.

We plucked Dr. Sandra Black, a renowned labor economist who graduated from Harvard and used to work at the Federal Reserve, from UCLA. Take that, Bruins! Consider it an opening salvo.

Black, who studies how family characteristics such as birth order, family size, and birth weight influence later achievement, said she was drawn to the academic community at UT because it encourages cooperation across disciplines.

“The people I’ve met seem very open to ideas and methodologies used in other disciplines and learning from each other,” Black said. “That has been rare in my experience.”

Some of Black’s recent research has explored whether increasing parent education affects their children’s academic achievement.

She and two co-researchers looked at data from Norway, where the compulsory-education laws were changed. What Black and her team were looking for was whether changing the law affected the children of those who had to do more schooling.

“Increasing compulsory schooling definitely affects the parents,” Black said, “but it did not have a large effect on students.”

Black has moved to Austin and is settling in before the school year begins. She will be working also with the Population Research Center and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

“The kinds of questions she works on are absolutely the kinds of questions we’re interested in — and they’re not limited to any one academic field,” said PRC Director Mark Hayward, a sociologist. “She’s a natural to the work we do here.”

As for the economics department finally hiring it’s first female full professor, Black said it represents a positive milestone.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I think it’s about time. It’s a very good thing for The University of Texas.”



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