Tonight I will be pouring out some of my wine spritzer for Feminist Economics pioneer Marianne Ferber, who passed away a week ago at age 90. She was born in Czechoslovakia and her family immigrated to Canada in the 1930s to escape Jewish persecution.
She received her PhD in economics from the University of Chicago in 1954. She then taught at University of Illinois, often on a part-time or last-minute-hire basis (partly because her husband was a professor there and the university had strict anti-nepotism rules at the time). Finally, in the late 60s, a colleague asked her to research the salaries of women in academia, starting her career as a labor economist with a focus on gender.
In 1987, she wrote “Women and Work, Paid and Unpaid,” a catalog of the research on women’s work that was a precursor to the establishment of the field of feminist economics. She was the editor (along with Julie Nelson) of seminal feminist economics text “Beyond Economic Man,” published in 1993 to “examine the central tenets of economics from a feminist point of view,” establishing the field of feminist economics.
In an obituary, fellow economist Frances Woolley writes, “Marianne Ferber was, physically, a small woman, especially in her later years. Yet she loomed so large in so many people’s lives – those of her family, friends, colleagues, students, and the thousands who read and were touched by her work – that she is, to me, a little giant.”