Essay Contest: Unlocking Our Potential

June 28, 2021

Illustration of diverse people

To deepen our understanding of the economic impact of gender and racial inequities, the San Francisco Fed is launching an essay contest for doctoral students. This contest is part of our commitment to better understand the U.S. economy’s potential in order to support our maximum employment mandate.

Our own research shows that gender and racial equity will be crucial for producing faster economic growth and helping the country stay competitive globally. This equity will reflect an economy in which all people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

Contest guidelines

We are seeking essays that address various aspects of gender and racial inequities, their underlying causes, and their economic consequences. Essays must provide empirical analysis to support the author’s conclusion and be no more than 5,000 words.

The contest is open to doctoral students in economics and related fields at any U.S. PhD-granting college or university. Essays must be approved by a professor in an accompanying reference letter.

Two essays will be selected to be published in shortened form in the SF Fed’s FRBSF Economic Letter, subject to our review process. Winning authors will each be awarded a $1,000 prize.

In addition, essay winners will be invited to spend six weeks during the summer of 2022 at the SF Fed as Economic Research scholars. Students will present their work through internal brown bag seminars. They also will have the chance to discuss their work with others, receive mentoring, and build relationships with economists and other Bank employees. The scholar program will include a stipend.

How to enter

Interested students should submit their essay, reference letter, and a resume to by December 15, 2021. We will announce the winning essays on January 31, 2022.

Economic Research scholars are required to

  • Satisfy the Federal Reserve’s employment eligibility and background screening requirements
  • Have authorization to work in the United States
  • Be available to work for the full duration of the six-week internship. Note that the status of the COVID-19 pandemic during the summer of 2022 will determine whether scholars will complete the program in person or remotely.

View “Unlocking Our Potential” description and guidelines as a PDF (130 kb)

Sylvain Leduc is the Director of Economic Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.