International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 48: What is feminist economics?
Feminist economics is a relative newcomer to the economics profession. Although the economic position of women has been a question for many years, a uniquely feminist community of economists does not emerge until the early 1990s. It was marked by the launching of the journal Feminist Economics, as well as the International Association for Feminist Economists (IAFFE). It is a pluralistic, and sometimes interdisciplinary, approach to economics that works toward a transformation of economics. Using gender and other markers of social difference as analytical categories, feminist economists show that implicit and unexamined values are deeply embedded in both theoretical and empirical economic scholarship. Absent feminist analyses, economics rationalizes and naturalizes existing social hierarchies based on gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality. Although this is especially true of issues germane to women’s lives such as occupational segregation and the wage gap, the feminization of poverty and the provision of domestic labor, it is no less true of issues such as development and macroeconomics. All economic phenomena are likely to have asymmetric impacts on women and men, since they occupy different and overlapping social locations. Feminist economics is also defined by what it is not. It is not mainstream economics, the type of economics that one reads about in the Wall Street Journal or hears about on all of the major television networks and in all of the leading business magazines.
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