Women and the history of economics

Here is an invitation to contribute to a symposium that absolutely mirrors everything about the academic world of today.

Women, Economics and History: Diversity within Europe

The literature on the history of economics that focuses on the presence of
women in economics has recently grown exponentially. Suffice it to think of
the volumes edited by Dimand, Dimand and Forget (1995 and 2000), the huge
bibliographic work by Madden, Pujol and Seiz (2004), the handbook by Madden
and Dimand (2019), as well as the very recent book by Becchio (2020).
Moreover, numerous studies on women’s participation in economic debates or on
the role of women in economic institutions in the historical perspective are
currently in progress.

Some of these works cover a very wide area. For example, The Routledge
Handbook of the History of Women’s Economic Thought includes studies on the
USA, India, Latin America, Japan, China, Africa, the Arab world and Europe
(Italy, Austria, the UK, Russia and the Soviet Union). While recognizing the
urgent need for an inclusive global perspective, this call for papers narrows
its focus to the diversity within Europe for two main reasons. First, there
are no historical works on women in economics specifically devoted to this
geographical area. Second, a broader coverage would make it more difficult to
analyse the complexity of the different European contexts, especially the less
studied ones, which is the main aim of this special issue of Œconomia.

This call for papers seeks to stimulate the reconstruction of the divergent
historical paths of the many European realities that are likely to have
produced a differentiated substratum of thinking about women in economics and
their place within the economy. We intend to attract papers that discuss the
deep diversities within Europe with the aim of linking the analysis of women
in the history of economic thought to the focus on their intellectual
traditions, properly contextualizing it within women’s different countries,
regions and periods. The special issue aims at covering a wide time span,
taking as a starting point the Enlightenment, the period when associations by
women activists were created. We welcome and encourage contributions on any
later period, including recent and contemporary history, considering
specificities linked to the two World Wars, the Cold War, revolutionary
movements, the creation of the European Union, and other major historical and
political events and processes that have marked the history of Europe.

Examples of different perspectives that can be adopted to tackle the
heterogeneity of European histories include:

.  Women as economic researchers. We know that women were not absent, even in
the early developments of the discipline, but they were erased from its
official history. The greatest effort made by historians of economic thought
to date has been to bring the names of women out of the darkness, to give them
visibility, and it is worth continuing to do so. Thus, biographies of European
women interested in economic topics across different time periods and analysis
of their writings are welcome.

.    Cultural history and intellectual history. Women did not write and publish
like men, and very often we cannot find their economic thought in published
books or articles. They often worked in economic institutions, seldom in
universities, and they often did not sign their writings. Here intellectual
history intertwines with cultural history, and hence attention has to be paid
to private and personal sources in order to reconstruct women’s economic
thought.

.    Impact, influences and traditions. The history of economic thought deals
with ideas, their impact and their reception. The historical reconstruction of
the impact of women’s ideas on reality, their influence on subsequent
interpreters, and their links with traditions of thought is a very difficult
task in women’s studies (Fuster and Birulés 2021). Here the relevant
categories are those of network (within a generation) and transmission (among
generations), in order to trace the circulation and the survival of their
ideas.

.    History of women’s emancipation. We welcome contributions that study
women’s commitment to emancipation (when it involves economic reflections)
from a historical perspective. The analyses might also examine the history of
economic institutions for the promotion of gender equality in various European
countries.

.   History of gender economics. Investigations of the roots, the origins and
the development of the economics of gender in European countries are
encouraged. Influenced by home economics and household economics, the new home
economics adopted a standard microeconomic approach to study household
economic decisions, labour and demographic issues. The same neoclassical
analytical framework was then extended by the new discipline of gender
economics in order to study gender differences and their economic
implications, especially in the labour market and in marriage.

. History of feminist economics. It is equally important to look at the
roots, the origin and the development of feminist economics in European
countries, uncovering gender-aware conceptions of economics long before the
institutionalization of feminist approaches. All analyses that use history in
order to adopt a feminist perspective and to propose a reformulation of
economic theory based on the idea that economic agents are not gender neutral
are welcome. Here a broad definition of economics should be adopted in order
to avoid the distinction between the formal and informal sector, to consider
the hidden contribution of women to the growth of wealth, to look at the
labour market from a feminist perspective, to take into account the labour of
caring, to elaborate on alternative indicators of human development, and to
propose new economic explanations of gender discrimination (see Jacobsen
2020).

. Historiography. We invite contributions on how and why women have been
represented, misrepresented or absent not only from most economic studies, but
also from the history of economics. Contributions could investigate how
historical studies approached, or ignored, the topic, and how feminist
perspectives could inform, or change the way in which women are addressed in
the history of economics and the history of economic thought.

. Orthodoxy/heterodoxy. The economics of gender stands in the realm of
neoclassical economics, while feminist economics is considered to be a
heterodox approach. The latter shares its dissent regarding the neoclassical
tradition with other heterodoxies, but it shows elements of misalignment with
them as well. In order to deepen and articulate their possible interrelations,
contributions from a range of perspectives (Socialist, Marxist, Institutional,
Evolutionary, Austrian, Post-Keynesian, and other) are encouraged.

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