Meet Erin McGurk: Founder of Girl Economics

Home  ❯  Interview   ❯   Meet Erin McGurk: Founder of Girl Economics

21st June, 2024 1 Comment

We had the chance to sit down with the incredibly impressive Erin McGurk, student and founder of Girl Economics – a fast growing daily newsletter interviewing brilliant women in economics and digging into the big news of each day.

Can you introduce yourself, and tell us a bit about where you are in your studies?

I’m Erin, and I’m currently in year 13 and studying my A-levels. I’m hopefully going off to study Economics at Cambridge next year (grades pending!) and while I’ll see how my undergraduate studies go, I’m already interested in doing a masters and then possibly a PhD further down the line.

I’ve always been someone who’s really focused on one subject. Going back to year seven, I was obsessed with biology, then it was chemistry and then it was physics and until about the end of August last year I thought I would apply for Maths and Philosophy for my degree. But after some thought, I realised it’s all very abstract and while I was looking at textbooks to see what I’d be getting myself into, I started to wonder if this was the right choice. While I really love numbers, and essay writing – I wanted something more ‘substantial’.

I also didn’t initially ask to do A-level economics, as I was originally signed up for computer science. I really missed writing essays and that wider exploration of topics. I love a good debate and you don’t often get that with really technical subjects, because there’s one right answer and one ‘right way to get there’.

I was very lucky that my school let me swap because we were already about 3 months into the year so it’s quite far into the curriculum to make changes. I had to write an email begging them to let me switch! And I’m so glad, because I absolutely love it. My teacher is brilliant, I feel like I can have a real debate in it.

Can you tell us more about Girl Economics, what is it and why did you start it? What’s
the overall goal of the work you’re doing?

It’s a pretty young organisation, it’s been going about 3 months in its current form but it has absolutely exploded. I almost regret the fact I started it just before exam season!

I’ve always loved listening to interviews and I love to hear other people’s stories and the journey of how they’ve got to where they are now – whether that’s a linear journey or via challenges they’ve faced. But it feels like with these interviews, you see a lot of the same people being recycled over and over. And when they talk about their career, we see people talk about successes – and by virtue of it being the same sort of people who have seen a lot of success, it’s generally a lot of men from a similar background.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is difficult to directly relate to it, and that’s where I got the idea of going out there and spotlighting women who are doing influential things.

Particularly in these traditionally male dominated fields like economics, finance, business, and technology. I did one or two interviews and put them out and people messaged me saying “oh I’ve seen this person at an event and loved their story” and people would recommend other women for me to speak to, and it’s all kind of grown forward from there.

We’ve just recruited a few different teams to help look after different areas of the newsletter, and I was amazed at how many people wanted to be involved. We had 120 applications! It shows that there is a real demand for this and it’s something people are engaging with on a deeper level.

At the moment we’re looking at next steps and bringing it into sixth forms and colleges and through economics societies – so providing them information about interesting female economists which they can use and share with their communities. Thinking even further ahead we’re looking at how we can make this a platform that really brings people together. So in person events are something we’ll consider to elevate this beyond just being a newsletter.

What’s your favourite thing about running it?

The fact I get to meet so many people and talk to them and learn different ways of operating within the space. If you talk to someone you might click on a certain topic , they might send you resources to look at afterwards. For example, I interviewed a woman who works at the Institute of Economic Affairs which was very interesting, and she referred me to a colleague and now I’m doing a summer program with them which I’m really looking forward to. So I really love the network effects of being able to speak to so many people.

And also now, seeing the fact so many other people my age are willing to get on board and join in!

Based on your interviews and conversations with people for the newsletter, what has
been the most interesting learning for you?

First of all, the vast majority of people I’m speaking to are doing something really interesting that isn’t what they originally set out to do. So we can all be comforted in the knowledge that you don’t have to have everything planned in a linear way when it comes to your career. For me, I’ve only really seen the professional world through the lens of LinkedIn, and it can seem like you need to have everything planned out immaculately 10 years in advance in order to do well at work. That’s incredibly daunting.

And on a side note that is something I’ve spoken to quite a lot of people about. It’s always scary going into the world of work for the first time, but there’s now an added pressure because we see these LinkedIn profiles from people just a year or two older than us with the big titles and all the awards, and then instagram and tiktoks saying “how I made 6 figures this month”.

Do you have a ‘dream job’ at this stage? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

It’s a “yes and no” answer there. I’d like to stay in academia a bit longer than just undergraduate, but then I have lots of adjacent ideas. So I’m interested in what a role in finance could look like. I’ve signed up to a few programs that let me do financial qualifications on the side, and I’ve been to a few events which have been interesting. I’m quite curious about private equity in particular. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but I’m someone who thrives under pressure (I used to be a competitive swimmer before covid!) and so I think I’d enjoy those high stakes environments.

But through Girl Economics, I’ve also realised I quite like the sound of my own voice – so maybe something in corporate law? Especially mergers and acquisitions which I think could be really interesting. So lots of options, and nothing 100% set in stone.

Lastly, we focus a lot at The Heard on the role of public speaking and opportunities. Do
you have the chance to do much of this / how do you find it? Any advice?

    I used to absolutely hate public speaking with a passion, and then I got into the model United
    Nations so I was Sec Gen of MUN at my sixth form. I remember going to my first conference and
    not speaking a single word and I just sat and watched everyone else. But through that, and doing a few summer programs like maths camp where you’re constantly meeting new people, it all really improved my ability to speak publicly.

    And through Girl Economics I’ve also had a few opportunities, so I’m going to be speaking at the Yorkshire Sustainability Festival which I’m really looking forward to. So I’d love to do a lot more public speaking in the future and I think that especially going to a University like Cambridge which is known for its speaking union, which is something I’d love to get involved in.

    One response to “Meet Erin McGurk: Founder of Girl Economics”

    1. Jennifer Bagshaw says:

      Hi Erin, what you’re doing is inspirational! I totally echo what you say about things not being set in stone, and changing subjects or careers not having it all planned out 10 years in advance. I studied music at Oxford (Christ Church college) because I love music, but for my career I ended up in tech and now work at one of the world’s largest corporations. I never saw that coming nor planned for it! And I reckon I’m still trying to figure out what to ‘really’ be! I’d love a conversation sometime. Jen

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Our website uses cookies to provide your browsing experience and relavent informations.Before continuing to use our website, you agree & accept of our Cookie Policy