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Alumni Profile

Laura Ahlstrom

Program: Ph.D. in Economic Education

Year of Completion: 2018

Dissertation Title: Where are the Women? The Gender Gap in Undergraduate Economics and Finance Degree Selection

Dissertation Advisor: Dr. Carlos Asarta, Department of Economics

Laura Ahlstrom

Current Position

Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Oklahoma State University

Current Research

Dr. Ahlstrom’s research explores the causes of women’s underrepresentation in undergraduate economics. She is currently working on studies that analyze gender differences in students’ introductory economics course performance based on the course format as well as the effect of instructors as role models in economic education.


Recent Publications

  • “The Gender Gap in Undergraduate Economics Course Persistence and Degree Selection,” with Carlos J. Asarta. 2019, AEA Papers & Proceedings, 109: 255-260. https://doi.org/10.1257/pandp.20191103
  • “Navigating the Economics Major: The Effect of Gender on Students’ Degree Pathways,” with Carlos J. Asarta. In J. Hall and K. Lawson (Eds.), Teaching Economics: Perspectives on Innovative Economics Education. 2019New York City: Springer Publishing Co., 115-136.
  • War Movies and Economics: Lessons from Hollywood’s Adaptations of Military Conflicts. with Franklin G. Mixon, Jr. (Eds.), Routledge, forthcoming.
  • “The Private Provision of a Public Good: An Examination of Hollywood’s Adaptation of the Third Servile War,” with Franklin G. Mixon, Jr., In War Movies and Economics: Lessons from Hollywood’s Adaptations of Military Conflicts. Routledge, forthcoming. 

Recent Awards/Funding

Dr. Ahlstrom received the 2020 Phil Saunders Best Economic Education Paper Award from the National Association of Economic Educators (NAEE)  for “Does Taking a Principles of Economics Course Online Influence Student Performance in Intermediate Economics Courses?” with Carlos J. Asarta and David M. Switzer.


Why did you choose to pursue your PhD at CEHD? What was it about the university/school that drew you here?

“Before I entered the program, I was a high school social studies teacher and had been teaching Advanced Placement Economics courses for several years. I really loved what I was teaching and was considering a graduate program. The Ph.D. in Economic Education program at UD was a great fit. My coursework and experiences at UD combined my love of economics with my passion for education and provided me with a strong foundation of skills as a scholar in my field.”


Can you share on positive memory that has stuck with you since you left UD?

“When I was beginning to write the literature review for my dissertation, a professor on my committee, Dr. Elizabeth Farley-Ripple in the School of Education, gave me some excellent advice. She encouraged me to think of the literature review like a funnel that should begin with a general overview of the research, moving to a narrower focus. As a result, I explored research outside of my primary field of economic education, which gave me a much broader perspective and understanding of the questions I was studying.”


Updated on April 14, 2020