“We believe in the potential of every young woman to shape her financial destiny,” was the message the Arizona Council on Economic Education wanted to deliver to young women attending the first Invest in Girls Exploring Finance Program, held at the Franklin Police and Fire High School in the Phoenix Union High School District. The Freedom Center was the signature sponsor for the event.

Mary L. Rigdon, Freedom Center Director and Associate Professor of Political Economy and Moral Science, one of America’s leading experts on gender competitiveness and the wage gap, was the perfect leader to deliver an inspirational and educational keynote speech, “Women Rising: Understanding Competitiveness and the Gender Wage Gap.”

During her talk, Mary shared with the students that women and men are equally competitive, but they are motivated by different incentives. The young women who attended gained greater understanding and confidence in their ability to compete and succeed in economics or any career they wanted.

“What I learned today will give me an advantage, knowing something not everybody does,” one attendee said.

Another commented, “I feel more motivated to do a lot more and help the future generation. The words of certainty and examples of hard work that got the women to where they are motivates me to do the same.”

Mary L. Rigdon at the Inaugural Invest in Girls Exploring Finance Program

About the Invest in Girls Program

The Invest in Girls program showcases what’s possible in the world of work by engaging successful women who’ve been leading the way to speak with participating students and inspire them to forge their own paths. In an effort to diversify fields such as investment banking, corporate finance, portfolio management, and venture capital, IIG aspires to sustain a pipeline of future female executives and financial professionals. Over 50 girls are matched in a year-long 1:1 professional mentorship this year.

Mary Rigdon’s Long-Term Commitment to Mentorship

Mary has been “paying it forward,” lifting young women and helping them achieve their goals. For over two decades, she has mentored women as the Director of the Decision and Economic Sciences Laboratory (DESL). During that time, she has mentored hundreds of undergraduates, many of whom have come from underrepresented communities.

DESL gives students the opportunity to participate in and learn about various phases of the research process, as well as the opportunity to develop independent research projects. Undergraduates whom Mary advised have graduated from Ph.D. programs at Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, the University of Maryland, Boston University, University of California -Irvine, SUNY Purchase, University of California -Berkeley, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Northeastern University School of Law. Many other students are now advancing careers at notable organizations, including a Principal Statistician at Neustar, a Senior Growth Associate at Hawthorne, a Software Developer at Zippity, a Global Supply Chain Planner at Bristol Myers Squibb, a Data Scientist at Facebook, and a UX Researcher at Google.