An interview with Edith Kuyper about A Herstory of Economics

1) Can you please explain what is feminist economics? I suspect many people have never heard of the field. What is its principle? How has it evolved?

Feminist economics is a new paradigm of economics that considers women and gender (including race, class, age, and other identities). The economics discipline and mainstream economics developed during a period in Western history where women (and other people) did not have access to higher education, universities, and other places where economic debate and theory were constructed. Those who had access were predominantly not exclusively white European upper-middle-class men. Thus, it was their experiences, interests, ideas and questions that defined economics as a field of study and later as a science.

Women with experiences and insights and people previously excluded from economics seem to have a fundamental influence on what questions are asked, what answers are considered satisfactory, what methods are deemed appropriate, what issues and problems are addressed. Simply put: who makes the decisions in economics for qualitative research, determines in which direction the field develops. Feminist economics studies and focuses on explaining the experiences of women, men, and other people. Feminist economists do not focus exclusively on women, but only include and explain the behavior of women, children, older people, gay and trans people, etc. in their research. It does so that feminist economics aims not only to generate new theory but also to transform the discipline of economics as a whole more broadly.

Feminist economics has a long history, but the field under this name began in the late 1980s, early 1990s. At that time there were enough women economists (including economics students) engaged in economics to form groups, organize conferences, and conduct economic research at a critical mass. Many of these started asking questions about women and gathering information that was not available before. In the early 1990s economists moved to critique mainstream economics and other theories such as Marxist and institutional theory from a gender perspective. This occurred with the development of critiques of the way economic history was told in mainstream economic research (mostly quantitative), (focusing exclusively on white middle-class European and American men) and the economic methods used to formulate traditional economic policy. During these years feminist economists started the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) in 1992 and the journal Feminist Economics In 1995.

2) What is the position of feminist economists in the profession, how do mainstream economists treat you and your colleagues?

Feminist economists are working in virtually all subfields of economics, from macroeconomics, labor economics, finance, economic history, development economics. In the early years, it was very difficult to engage in feminist economic research, as there was a substantial risk of losing your job for doing so. There was, and still is, discrimination against women. You can only imagine what things were like for women of color. Besides, Dr. also researched on women economists womanIts economic behavior, making a career in economics was very difficult. It has evolved over the years, although the field of feminist economics is still not fully recognized. For many economists, this requires time and retraining that not everyone is willing to undertake. Feminist economic research has received full recognition, however, in development economics and by international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. The field of history of economic thought now welcomes research on women into the field of history. There are many relevant and new problems for research. It is an exciting and inspiring field.

3) What do you think attracts most people to study feminist economics? Why not feminist economics and international trade or financial theory for example?

Feminist economics differs from subfields such as macroeconomics and monetary theory and from other economic theories such as Keynesianism or monetarism because it is a new paradigm, meaning a complete alternative to mainstream economic research programs. It’s doing economics, while taking women and gender (and race, class, oblism, etc.) into account. So feminist economists are active in many fields such as international trade, macroeconomics, international finance, etc. This means that you can become a feminist economist and research international trade or financial theory. I am a feminist economist and a philosopher and historian of economics, for example.

4) Introductory essay Routledge Handbook of Feminist Economics The sub-discipline is said to have been heavily influenced by the social thought of Veblen and Marx. Would it be possible to have a feminist economics with a more conservative framework like von Mises or von Hayek?

It has been, but feminist economics has also been heavily influenced by neoclassical economics and Keynesian economics. Various attempts have been made to reframe feminist economics into a specific already existing economic theory. That didn’t work. There are feminist economists like Deirdre McCloskey, who considers herself a feminist economist and who is an ardent pro-capitalist and free-market economist. So yes, it would be possible. Not all feminist economists agree on which economic theory to use, but they do agree that women’s interests and behavior should be included, explained, and addressed by economists, and that gender (and race, class, age, and heterogeneity) play an important role. Thinking about economics as well as economics.

5) In your latest book, History of economics You draw attention to a number of women economists who have been neglected in the history of economic development. Can you name some of these?

Mary Collier (c. 1688-1762), for example and one of my favorites, was a washerwoman who wrote a beautiful long poem about the double burden of working women, Women’s labor (1739). Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) had to support herself and wrote short stories applying the economic ideas of Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus to people’s everyday lives. He did this to show what these ideas and theories meant and to teach, for example, the importance of savings and family planning. He made a good income by that means. Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827-1891) led a group of women in London who researched women’s education and work. They fought to get bills passed by Parliament, one that would give women the right to divorce (which became the Divorce Act of 1857) and another that would improve women’s property rights (which was passed into the British Parliament as the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870). These works have changed the lives of many women. Another example is American Sadie Tanner Moselle Alexander (1898-1989) who was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in economics in 1921 and who researched poverty under 100 immigrant black families in Philadelphia. The women mentioned in my book have brought women’s economic experiences, issues, and interests into the public debate, but most of them have so far lacked recognition by economists and economic historians of their time.

6) What are some books, journals, and articles you recommend for someone interested in learning more?

To learn more about feminist economics I recommend reading some of these books:

Barker, Drusilla K., Bergeron, Suzanne and Feiner, Susan F. (2021) Liberation economy. Feminist Perspectives on Family, Work and Globalization. 2n.d ed., Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Folbrey, Nancy (2021) The rise and fall of patriarchy. An Intersectional Political EconomyLondon and New York: Verso.

Badgett, Lee (2020) The economics case for LGBT equality. Why fair and equal treatment benefits us allBoston, MA: Beacon Press.

About the History of Feminist Economics:

Becchio, Giandomenica (2020) History of Feminist Economics and Gender EconomicsNew York: Routledge

Farber, Marian A. and Nelson, Julie A. (2003) Feminist Economics Today. Beyond Economic ManChicago: University of Chicago Press.

About the History of Women in Economics:

Folbrey, Nancy (2009) Greed, lust and sex. History of Economic Concepts. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Kuyper, Edith (2014) Thoughts of Women Economists in the Eighteenth CenturyNew York: Francis & Taylor, Routledge.

Madden, Kristen and Demand, Robert (2019) Routledge Handbook of the History of Women’s Economic ThoughtNew York: Routledge.

May, Ann Marie (2022) Disillusioned women in science. Women in the early years of the economics profession. New York: Columbia University Press.

Rostek, Joanna (2021) Women’s Economic Thought in the Romantic Era. Toward a Transdisciplinary History of Economic ThoughtLondon: Routledge.


Chris Lucas was born in Greece and is an economic journalist and bronze medalist at the 2022 International Economics Olympiad. Her essays have been featured by the Foundation for Economic Education, Ms. Institute, and Adam Smith Works.

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