Feminist Economics Syllabus

16501553-abstract-word-cloud-for-feminist-economics-with-related-tags-and-termsFeminist economics is a thing that exists, which some non-economists are incredulous about when I tell them that is what I do. I’ve written about it a little bit on Lady Economist, but it’s always worth expanding on. Many economists might also write it off as fringe or not serious enough, but this is a whole other can of worms. When I describe it to people, I usually say that it is twofold. First, feminist economics seeks to understand the way in which gender shapes the economy and people’s economic experiences. A classic example of this would be the study of the gender wage gap. And second, feminist economics also explores the way in which gendered thinking influences the study and methodology of economics itself. Economics tends to be very masculine, not only the proportion of men in the field, but also in the way “good” economic theory is judged. Good economic theory is quantitative, logical, strong, etc. – all descriptions that are rhetorically masculine. Also, mainstream economics focuses on the separative self rather than communities or a more relative and subjective understanding of oneself, which is an androcentric or male-point-of-view bias. The feminist economics project tries to overcome these limitations of mainstream economic theory not only to bring up new questions in economics, but also more fundamentally explore the different ways in which questions can be answered.

If any of this stuff sounds interesting to you, or if you already knew about feminist economics and just want to study it some more, below is a syllabus on feminist economics that some colleagues and I put together over the past year or so. Also, please submit your own suggested readings in the comments. This syllabus should be a living resource and I hope the internet can keep it going in the ether for everyone to access.


(1) Feminist economic critique of mainstream economics and alternatives,

Barker, Drucilla and Susan Feiner (2004). “Economics She Wrote” Ch. 1. in Barker and Feiner Liberating Economics: Feminist Perspectives on Families, Work, and Globalization, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Power, Marilyn (2004). “Social Provisioning as a starting point for Feminist Economics” Feminist Economics 10(3): 3-19.

Figart, Deborah M. (1997). “Gender as More Than a Dummy Variable.” Review of Social Economy 55(1); 1-32.

(2) Feminist perspectives on economic methods and arguments,

Jacobsen, Joyce (2003). “Some Implications of the Feminist Project in Economics for Empirical Methodology” in Barker and Kuiper eds., Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics, Routledge.

Peter, Fabienne (2001). “Rhetoric vs. realism in economic methodology: a critical assessment of recent contributions.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 25 (5), pp.571-589.

Nelson, J. (1995). Feminism, objectivity and economics. Routledge, Ch. 1-3.

(3) Gender division of labor: historical perspective,

Horrell, Sara, and Jane Humphries (1995). “Women’s labour force participation and the transition to the male‐breadwinner family, 1790‐1865.” The Economic History Review 48 (1), pp. 89-117.

Barker, Drucilla and Susan Feiner (2004). “Family Matters: Reproducing the Gender Division of Labor” Ch. 2 in Barker and Feiner Liberating Economics: Feminist Perspectives on Families, Work, and Globalization, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Goldin, Claudia. 1995. “The U-shaped Female Labor Force Function in Economic Development and Economic History,” in T.P. Schultz (ed.) Investment in Women’s Human Capital and Economic Development. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

(4) Gender division of labor: bargaining in the household,

Agarwal, Bina (1997). “‘Bargaining’ and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household.” Feminist Economics, Vol. 3(1), pp. 1-51.

Becker, Gary S. (1974). “A theory of marriage.” Economics of the family: Marriage, children, and human capital. UMI, pp. 299-351.

Basu, K. (2006). Gender and Say: a Model of Household Behaviour with Endogenously Determined Balance of Power*. The Economic Journal,116(511), 558-580.

Iversen, V. (2003). Intra-household inequality: a challenge for the capability approach?. Feminist Economics, 9(2-3), 93-115.

Seiz, Janet A. “Bargaining models, feminism, and institutionalism.” Journal of Economic Issues 29.2 (1995): 609-618.

(5) Gender division of labor: work in the household and accounting for unpaid work,

Barker, Drucilla K. “Beyond Women and Economics: Rereading “Women’s Work”.” Signs 30.4 (2005): 2189-2209.

Folbre, Nancy. “Measuring care: gender, empowerment, and the care economy.” Journal of human development 7.2 (2006): 183-199.

Folbre, Nancy, and Julie A. Nelson. “For Love or Money–Or Both?” The Journal of Economic Perspectives (2000): 123-140.

(6) Gender division of labor: occupational segregation in the modern labor market and labor market discrimination,

Darity, William A., and Patrick L. Mason. “Evidence on discrimination in employment: codes of color, codes of gender.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 12.2 (1998): 63-90.

Figart, Deborah M. “Gender as more than a dummy variable: Feminist approaches to discrimination.” Review of Social Economy 55.1 (1997): 1-32.

Blau, Francine D., Marianne A. Ferber and Anne E. Winkler (2010). “Differences in Occupations and Earnings: The Role of Labor Market Discrimination,” Ch.7 in The Economics of Women, Men, and Work (6th Edition). Prentice Hall.

Ransom, Michael R., and Val E. Lambson. “Monopsony, Mobility, and Sex Differences in Pay: Missouri School Teachers.” American Economic Review101.3 (2011): 454-59.

Ransom, Michael R., and Ronald L. Oaxaca. “New market power models and sex differences in pay.” Journal of Labor Economics 28.2 (2010): 267-289.

(7) Neoliberal economic policies, international trade and investment,

Standing, Guy. “Global Feminization through Flexible Labor.” World development 17.7 (1989): 1077-1095.

Standing, Guy (1999). “Global Feminization through Flexible Labor: a Theme Revisited.” World Development. Vol. 27(3), pp. 551-69.

Lourdes Benería (2003), ‘Markets, Globalization and Gender’, in Gender, Development, and Globalization: Economics as if All People Mattered, Chapter 3, London and New York, NY: Routledge, 63–90.

(8) Trade, feminization and international gender wage inequality,

Caraway, Teri (2007). Assembling Women: The Feminization of Global Manufacturing. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Chapter 4 and 6.

Berik, Günseli, Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, and Joseph E. Zveglich. “International trade and gender wage discrimination: Evidence from East Asia.” Review of Development Economics 8.2 (2004): 237-254.

Seguino, Stephanie. “Accounting for gender in Asian economic growth.”Feminist Economics 6.3 (2000): 27-58.

Busse, M. and C. Spielman (2006). “Gender Inequality and Trade.” Review of International Economics. Vol. 14(3), pp. 362-379.

Klasen, Stephan and Francesca Lamanna (2009). “The Impact of Gender Inequality in Education and Employment on Economic Growth: New Evidence for a Panel of Countries.” Feminist Economics. Vol. 15(3), pp. 91-132.

Schober, Thomas and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer (2011). “Gender Wage Inequality and Economic Growth: Is There Really a Puzzle?—A Comment.” World Development, Vol. 39(8), pp. 1476-84.

(9) Gender effects on macroeconomic theory and instability.

Cagatay, Nilufer. 2003. “Engendering Macroeconomics” in Martha Gutierrez, ed. Macroeconomics: Making Gender Matter, Zed Books, pp. 22-35.

Berik, Gunseli and Yana Rodgers. 2008. “Engendering Development Strategies and Macroeconomic Policies: What’s Sound and Sensible?” In Social Justice and Gender Equality, Routledge, pp. 16-30.

Blecker, Robert A., and Stephanie Seguino. “Macroeconomic Effects of Reducing Gender Wage Inequality in an Export‐Oriented, Semi‐Industrialized Economy.” Review of Development Economics 6.1 (2002): 103-119.

Seguino, Stephanie (2010). “Gender, Distribution, and Balance of Payments Constrained Growth in Developing Countries.” Review of Political Economy, Vol. 22 (3), pp. 373-404.


Categories: Alternative Models, Angry Feminists, Economisses

19 replies

  1. This article is brilliant. Thanks for that. Dorothy, you are amazing. I am also try to write a feminist thesis. This piece is showing me the way…

    • Great to hear! It can be difficult to get into it and explore your own work with the background of previous work. I hope this is at least a good start. If you find anything else you think is helpful in your work that should be included, please let me know!

  2. Nice thoughtful piece

  3. The book “The Economic Emergence of Women” (second edition) by Barbara R. Bergmann, has chapters on

    why women have entered the labor force
    occupational segregation
    child care
    causes of the wage gap
    affirmative action
    the pay equity movement
    the job of housewife
    poverty and single parents
    a policy agenda

  4. Thanks for this, really great stuff! I will be using this resource and sharing it loads.
    Would like to suggest a few additions. For feminist economist studies of IFIs, I suggest Kate Bedford (2009) ‘Developing Partnerships’ and Penny Griffin (2009) ‘Gendering the World Bank’. Also, V Spike Peterson (2005) ‘Critical Rewriting of Global Political Economy provides’ a really strong critical/ feminist theoretical perspective.

  5. Reblogged this on Gender, Neoliberalism and Financial Crisis Conference and commented:
    An excellent resource for feminist economists, will definitely be of interest to conference participants!

  6. How wonderful to post this compiled reading list!

    While there are tons to add on each topic, one seems important to add on this list of selected works: Sen’s “Gender and Cooperative Conflicts,” which sparked the feminist economics bargaining approach research agenda.

  7. A few suggestions from University of Missouri-Kansas City courses and my own studies

    Barker, Drucilla K and Susan F. Feiner, “”Economics”, She Wrote,” in Liberating Economics: Feminist Perspectives on Families, Work, and Globalization, ch1. 2004.

    Katz, E. (1997). The intra-household economics of voice and exit. Feminist economics, 3(3), 25–46.

    Koritz, A., & Koritz, D. (2001). Checkmating the consumer: passive consumption and the economic devaluation of culture. Feminist Economics, 7(1), 45–62.

    Matthaei, Julie. “Why feminist, Marxist, and anti-racist economists should be feminist-Marxist-anti-racist economists” Feminist Economics 2(1), 22-42.

    Matthaei, Julie, “Patriarchy,” in Peterson, Janice and Margaret Lewis (ed) The Elgar Companion to Feminist Economics, 1999

    Nelson, Julie A. “The Study of Choice or the Study of Provisioning? Gender and the Definition of Economics,” in Ferber, Marianne A. and Julie A. Nelson (eds) Beyond Economic Man: Feminist Theory and Economics, ch1. 1993

    Nelson, Julie A., “Gender and Economics,” in Feminism, Objectivity and Economics, ch2, 1996

    Todorova, Z. 2009. Money and Households in a Capitalist Economy: A Gendered Post Keynesian-Institutional Analysis

    (Has sections on Feminist Economics and related fields)

  8. Hi Dorothy,

    May I please use the word cloud image on this post on a research guide for a Feminist Political Economy course (http://libguides.hampshire.edu/csi239)? I will, of course, credit you!

  9. Your definition of feminist economics is very helpful. Thanks.

  10. I’d like to add the pioneering work of the Political Economy of Women Group in the UK in the 1970s, including that of Sally Gardiner and Sue Himmelweit who continues to work in the area.

  11. Hi I am from Chennai in India – I teach GEnder Economics – its so nice to come across this group

  12. Can anyone recommend a good introductory book on feminist economics for someone who knows little about traditional economics?


  1. Online Feminist Economics Resources | SOAS Gender Report
  2. Feminist Economics Syllabus | Theory of Change
  3. L’economia femminista, da me tradotto e rielaborato | daniela e dintorni

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