Bronwyn Graves — Economics Ph.D. Job Market Candidate

Brownwyn Graves

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Bronwyn Graves is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees in economics at MTSU. She currently serves as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Business and Economic Research Center and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant with the Department of Economics and Finance. Bronwyn’s research interests include labor and gender.


Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Bronwyn Graves
Department of Economics and Finance
Jones College of Business
Middle Tennessee State University

The most impactful teachers in my college career were those who presented me with a way of thinking about the world I had never considered, regardless of subject. We who teach economics in particular have this opportunity to impact our students by presenting the operations of the world in a new way, and I consider myself fortunate to teach economics to students with differing interests in my subject. I believe that economic analysis can benefit any person in any career through the application of the broader ideas such as supply and demand, value, and incentives and the narrower topics such as taxation, interest rates, and tariffs.

In my undergraduate classes, I balance presentations of topics, graphing, and analytical problems with discussions of current events. I stress the importance of using economic analysis in any situation, and I encourage students to ask and answer the “what if” questions about economic topics, such as unemployment during COVID or the wider acceptance of cryptocurrency. My goal is to facilitate the practical, personal application of economic principles in the students’ lives. I aim to help them build a filter of economic thought through which they can analyze their personal decisions and the events of the world.

I emphasize the importance of all majors and experiences in order to show the connections that already exist between economics and students’ lives. I assign projects that allow students to study economics topics in which they already have interest, such as music or sports. I understand and appreciate the diversity of my students and the personal barriers that they may face in a college setting. I aim to present myself as an approachable instructor who is willing to listen to her students. One student wrote in my first semester of teaching: “I feel that [Ms.] Graves was able to create an inviting environment that allowed students to feel comfortable asking questions.” 

I enjoy answering students’ questions as it gives me the opportunity to research and more fully understand economics topics and current events. For example, during my first semester of teaching (Spring 2021), new cryptocurrencies rose in popularity in the stock market. After diving into this topic, I was able to answer students’ questions about the background of cryptocurrency, and we discussed what the economic implications would be for the U.S. if every person paid with cryptocurrency.

My first semester of teaching was an all-remote class, giving me the opportunity to learn how to engage a class remotely and learn how to use the remote technology to my advantage. I also have learned the necessity of taking more time to connect to students when teaching remotely, and I did my best to incorporate individual accommodations when necessary (e.g., due date extensions for personal circumstances) and make time for virtual face-to-face meetings outside of my posted office hours.

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Statement of Research

Bronwyn Graves
Department of Economics and Finance
Jones College of Business
Middle Tennessee State University

The economic approach in answering difficult questions is what drew me to the field in my early college career. I am interested in using economic methods to understand the ‘why’ of certain market outcomes, specifically for women in the labor market.

I strive with my research to contribute to the existing knowledge on women in the workplace and I strive to understand through the lens of economics the individual labor-related choices that aggregate to labor market outcomes.

My academic research uses statistical methods to analyze the dynamics that effect women in the labor market, with the intention of advocating policy and educational pathways for women in various fields. My research fits well into labor and gender economics.

The purpose of my dissertation is to explore how market dynamics, namely low unemployment, affect the number of women and the wages of those women in blue-collar occupations and industries. The first chapter of my dissertation, “Under Pressure: Effects of Tight Labor Markets on Women in Skilled Blue-Collar Occupations,” looks at the labor market factors that lead to women’s increasing or decreasing representation in blue-collar occupations at the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) level. The low unemployment rate coupled with the high need for blue-collar labor provided the background for this paper, as I questioned whether tight labor markets would cause firms to hire more women as an alternative labor source. I propose skilled blue-collar labor (occupations requiring a degree or certification) to be an alternative path for women who do not plan to go to college. Using American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2005-2019, I show that low service wages are a contributing factor for an increase of women in blue-collar occupations. I also show that the number of women in skilled blue-collar labor is modestly affected by low unemployment.

In the same vein as the first chapter, the second chapter of my dissertation, “The Effect of Tight Labor Markets on Women in Management in Blue-Collar Industries,” explores a similar question as the first chapter, however at a different angle. The basis of this paper is that certain management occupations exist both in blue-collar industries (such as construction) as well as in non-blue-collar industries (such as education). An example highlighted in the paper is Finance Managers. This paper seeks to understand if tight labor markets effect the number of women in non-blue-collar management within blue-collar industries, using ACS data. Another purpose of this paper is to show patterns of women’s employment in management-industry pairs over time. I also explore, using O*NET information, what differences exist between blue-collar management occupations and non-blue-collar management occupations.

The third chapter of my dissertation, “Is CTE for Me? An Exploration of Women in High-School Level CTE Classes,” deviates from exploring current labor market outcomes to looking at young women’s experiences in secondary education. I measure the impact of community and school variables on the number of women enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE) classes in high schools across Tennessee. CTE education is an important topic to Tennessee, as CTE classes in high school lead to enrollment in technical colleges. The lack of young women in those classes could represent a failure on the part of the schools and the state to appropriately support young women who want to take those classes. This also could lead to a shortage of skilled blue-collar labor in the future if young women are not enrolled in these classes and thus never continue to blue-collar education.

Working on my dissertation has led me to see that committees and research groups exist that hope to answer questions about women’s labor market outcomes and how interventions can influence the educational and career paths of women. I am particularly interested in the motivations of women as they enter higher education, their perceptions of success of various fields, and their adherence to individually-based and peer-based beliefs.
Going forward, I expect to continue using the framework of economic incentives and choice to explore the labor market dynamics that influence women, adding to the knowledge of women in the labor market.

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  • Ph.D. Economics (Expected May 2022) Middle Tennessee State University
  • M.A. Economics (2020) Middle Tennessee State University
  • B.B.A. Economics (2017) Middle Tennessee State University

Journal Articles

  • Arik, M., & Graves, B. (2021). Economic Impacts of a General Aviation Airport: Murfreesboro Municipal Airport (MBT). Global Journal of Business Disciplines, 5(1), pp. 32-47.
  • Arik, M., Gao, Y., & Graves, B. (2020). Implications of Changing Supply Chain Dynamics of Global Ginseng Trade: A Pilot Study. Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability, 15(1).
  • Arik, M., Abston, K., & Graves, B. (2019). Workforce Turnover and Absenteeism in the Manufacturing Sector. Global Journal of Business Disciplines, 3(1): 57-79.

Working Papers

  • Arik, M. & Graves, B. (2021). "Quality of Life and System Severity Changes after Use with Urbanek Splint for the Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders."
  • “Under Pressure: Effects of Tight Labor Markets on Women in Skilled Blue-Collar Occupations”

Works in Progress

  • “The Effect of Tight Labor Markets on Women in Management in Blue-Collar Industries”
  • “Is CTE for Me? An Exploration of Women in High-School Level CTE Classes”

Courses Taught

  • ECON 2410: Principles of Macroeconomics (2021 Spring Semester, Middle Tennessee State University)


  • Proficient in R and Microsoft Office (Excel, Word and PowerPoint)

Work Experience

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Economics, Middle Tennessee State University. (January 2021 - present)
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Business and Econimic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University. (August 2018 - present)


Teaching Evaluations

ECON 2410: Principles of Macroeconomics
(2021 Spring Semester, Middle Tennessee State University)
Instructor Evaluation Mean: 4.63/5

Selected Student Comments:

  • “Knowledge over the subject”
  • “Made the class engaging to Learn”
  • “I believe that the strength of this course was how the instructor answered all questions that were asked with easy-to-understand answers.”
  • “She made sure to allow students to ask questions and she also provided proper homework related to the topics of class. She also presented everything in a manner for us to understand and presented many examples.”
  • “I feel that [Ms.] Graves was able to create an inviting environment that allowed students to feel comfortable asking questions.”
  • “Great lectures with engaging and entertaining course. [Instructor] was informed of the respected work and able to answer questions and be of help.”
  • “She was always open to questions and asked if anyone was having trouble understanding the material. She was also quick to reply when communicating outside of class.”
  • “Teacher is always prepared and makes sure students understand a concept before moving on.”
  • “Instructor Graves’ strengths include expressing genuine concern for students success in the course. She attempted to create an adequate learning environment given the circumstances of Covid. Also, she is approachable. It is easy to ask questions.”
  • “really sweet lady, also was always able to answer our questions outside of class.”
  • “The strengths of the course was that the instructor was very helpful in answering question when we did not understand something. She also engaged the whole class in the zoom meeting.”
  • “She's always helpful and caring.”
  • “The instructors taught very effectively and got students to voice their opinions through calls.”
  • “Demonstrates the sincere desire to teach. Makes teaching the number one priority. Accepts and restrictions and the work necessary to do the job right. Does what must be done to keep students apprised of their progress, successes, and needs…Accepts criticism and suggestions as positive signs for change. Constantly looking for new and better ways to teach.”
  • “She was a very great professor who cared about making sure students understood before moving on.”