The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was created in 1945 to foster stability in the international monetary system. The IMF is governed by 189 countries and is responsible for exchange rates, international transactions and reducing poverty worldwide. One woman in STEM, Dr. Gita Gopinath, currently serves as the Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department of the IMF.
Gopinath was born on December 8, 1971, in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. She grew up in Mysuru, where she excelled at sports as a young girl. Eventually, she decided to switch her focus to academia. From that point on, her life was decorated with medals and honors. She completed her bachelor’s in economics with honors in 1992 from the University of Delhi – Lady Shri Ram College. She won the University of Delhi President’s Gold Medal in economics for ranking first in B.A. Economics. Two years later, she earned a master’s in economics from the Delhi School of Economics through a national post-graduate fellowship in Economics.
In 1994, Gopinath moved across the world to attend the University of Washington, where she completed a second master’s in economics in 1996. While there, she won both the James K. Hall Award for academic performance and the Graduate Teaching Assistant Award from the Department of Economics. She finished her Ph.D. from Princeton in 2001, with a focus on international macroeconomics and trade. Her Ph.D. was partially-funded by the Princeton Wilson Fellowship Research Award. After completing her graduate education, Gopinath accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Chicago School of Business. She was the 2003-2004 James S. Kemper Foundation Scholar and won the Bhagwati Prize for her 2004 publication “Lending Booms, Sharp Reversals and Real Exchange Rate Dynamics” in the Journal of International Economics.
Gopinath moved to Boston in 2005 to start the tenure track at Harvard University, becoming a full professor in 2010. She served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the 2013-14 and 2016-17 academic years. In 2015, Gopinath became the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Students and Economics. During her tenure at Harvard, she was awarded the Andrew E. Furer Fellowship and the University of Washington Department of Economics Distinguished Alumnus award. In 2014, she was named one of the 25 top economists under 45 by the IMF. She also served as a member of Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for India’s Ministry of Finance, an economic Advisor to the chief minister of Kerala State, India and co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research International Finance and Macroeconomics Program.
After years of outstanding performance in economics, Gopinath was appointed as an economic counselor and director of the Research Department of the IMF, which she started in January 2019. She is the first woman to serve as chief economist of the IMF. In May, she was awarded the Pravasi Bharativa Samman⎯ the highest honor awarded by the Indian government to overseas citizens.
Are you interested in empowering women in the STEM fields? The Women in Science (Wi-Sci) group wants you! Email President Emily Larner (email@example.com) for more information.