Reflections of Eminent Economists
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Reflections of Eminent Economists

Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan

In this collection of autobiographical essays, 26 prominent scholars detail their professional development, while offering insight into their lives and philosophies. With candor and humor they relate how they came to the field of economics, as well as how their views have evolved over the years.
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Chapter 7: Sex and the Ivy League

Graciela Chichilnisky

Extract

7. Sex and the Ivy League Graciela Chichilnisky* Life is strange. Since childhood I have followed a peaceful and enjoyable inner path, which later developed into a matching professional and family life. I felt in harmony with my goals, and able to achieve what is important. Playing ‘tomboy’, I was attracted to masculine arenas and accomplishments, and never thought of myself as a woman. I always enjoyed good challenges, which to me are the spice of life. Yet somewhere along this path I met uncontrollable external forces, full of sound and fury, and had to experience first-hand the stormy transition of women’s roles at the turn of the twenty-first century. I joined Columbia University in 1977. For me, Columbia has become a challenge to meet, and the road to merge my internal and external lives: my personal values with my public life. TWO REFLECTIONS My first reflection from my professional experience in academia is that for a woman to survive and to thrive she must learn to turn negative responses into positive resources. This is a perverse reversal of the Pavlovian response. I call this, for short, ‘turning dung into fertilizer.’ I truly believe it is one of the most important elements for women’s success and happiness. It is a wonderful recipe for dealing with the ‘glass ceiling,’ a well-known and somewhat cruel situation where the more you succeed, the more you get punished. Think of it this way – energy is energy, and simply changing the sign of the...

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