Feminist Economics

Feminist EconomicsPhoto by Jen Theodore on Unsplash
Alyssa Schneebaum
University of Vienna, 2019
Level: beginner
Perspective: Feminist Economics
Topic: consumption, Crisis, economic history, Feminism, gender, growth, history of economic thought, labour & care, Teaching
Format: Course description/syllabus

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Feminist Economics

This syllabus was originally taught at the University of Vienna Winter Semester 2019/2020.
Instructor: Alyssa Schneebaum 


Course Summary

This course introduces students to the relevance of gender relations in economics as a discipline and in economic processes and outcomes.

The course covers three main components of gender in economics and the economy: (1) the gendered nature of the construction and reproduction of economic theory and thought; (2) the relevance and role of gender in economic decision-making; and (3) differences in economic outcomes based on gender. We will touch on the relevance of gender and gender relations in at least each of the following topics: economic theory; the history of economic thought; human capital accumulation; labor market discrimination; macroeconomic policy, including gender budgeting; household economics; basic econometrics; economic history; and economic crises. Class meetings will consist of lectures by the instructor, short readings, videos, class discussion, and group work. This course provides a thorough overview of the state of research and central issues in economic analyses of gender and feminist economics. The students will develop an understanding of the basic relationships between economics and gender relations, and the (re)production of these relationships. Students are encouraged to think independently about how gender works and matters in economic processes and outcomes.

Assignments and Assessment

Attendance, participation, “show and tell”

Attendance and participation are an important part of the course. Participation points will be distributed immediately following class and updated online. Students are responsible for all course material, even if they have missed a class. Twice in the semester, students should briefly and informally share with the class something that they have come across that is relevant for the class. This can be a song, a newspaper article, a viral tweet, a political campaign, a video... really, whatever has caught your attention. The main idea is that you explain how this thing is connected to concepts and ideas we are discussing in the course and how you understand this thing differently now that you are taking the course.

Reflection paper

 Choose two people in your family: one male and one female (if there is a nonbinary identifying person in your family, you can certainly choose them, too). Explain their economic conditions: are they relatively poor? wealthy? in the labor market? a precariously employed worker? ...and so on. Next, reflect on the core social, economic, historical, and political circumstances that have influenced their economic reality. Draw on the theories and readings from the class to help explain the factors that have influenced each person’s economic circumstances. Finally, comment on any differences you see by gender. This reflection paper should be about 8-10 pages long, double spaced, not including references. The paper should, of course, refer to and cite academic literature in the construction of the discussion. Use this opportunity to show me that you have read and understood the assigned readings. Papers which integrate more of the assigned readings will probably be more successful!

Final Essay 

Students will write individual essays in which they reflect on their own university training so far. The essay should explain a core concept or model that the student has learned in another class. Then, the essay should extend, edit, and/or re-specify the concept or model to more adequately account for gender relations. Finally, the essay should explain how this improved edition of the model or theoretical concept better explains reality. There are no formal requirements regarding the length of this essay. Papers of differing lengths can be equally good! Remember to make each paragraph, each sentence, and each word contribute to your argument. The essay should, of course, include reference to academic literature. Use this opportunity to show me that you have read and understood the assigned readings. Papers which integrate more of the assigned readings will probably be more successful!

Course Overview

Schedule of topics covered and mandatory readings

Session 1 Introduction and Overview 

  • Introduction and overview of the course; course structure; expectations and requirements; goals
  • Gender in Economics (the discipline)
  • Lundberg, Shelly and Jenna Stearns (2019). “Women in Economics: Stalled Progress.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 33(1): 3-22.

Session 2 Feminist Economics; Identity and Economics

  • Nelson, Julie A. (1995). “Feminism and Economics.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 9(2): 131-148.
  • Akerlof, George A. and Rachel E. Kranton (2000). “Economics and Identity.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 115(3): 715-753.

Session 3 Gender in the Labor Market

  • Fortin, Nicole M. (2005). “Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-Market Outcomes of Women Across OECD Countries.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 21(3): 416-438.
  • Polachek, Solomon W. (1995). “Human Capital and the Gender Earnings Gap: A Response to Feminist Critiques.” In Edith Kuiper and Jolande Sap (Eds.), Out of the Margin: Feminist Perspectives on Economics (pp. 61-79). London and New York: Routledge. (Distributed by instructor.)
  • Gorsuch, Marina M. (2019). “Gender, sexual orientation, and behavioral norms in the labor market.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 72(4): 927-954.

Session 4 Gender in Household Economics

  • Ironmonger, Duncan (1996). “Counting Outputs, Capital Inputs, and Caring Labor: Estimating Gross Household Product.” Feminist Economics 2(3): 37-64.
  • Greenwood, Jeremy, Nezih Guner, Georgi Kocharkov and Cezar Santos (2014). “Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality.” American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 104(5): 348–353.
  • Kleven, Henrik et al. (2019). “Child Penalties Across Countries: Evidence and Explanations.” Paper Prepared for American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings, available at https://www.henrikkleven.com/uploads/3/7/3/1/37310663/klevenetal_aea-pp_2019.pdf

Session 5 Gender and Macroeconomics

  • Heintz, James (2019). The Economy’s Other Half: How Taking Gender Seriously Transforms Macroeconomics. Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing. Chapter 1: “Gender inequality and Macroeconomic Policy.” (Distributed by instructor.)
  • Mammen, Kristin and Christina Paxson (2000). “Women’s Work and Economic Development.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 14(4): 141-164.
  • Lennon, Carolina and Alyssa Schneebaum (2019). “The employment effects of firm exposure to gender (in)equality via trade and FDI.” Working Paper (distributed by instructor).

Session 6 Gendered Economic Relations in Evolution

  • Podcast: Hidden Brain. “Nature, Nurture, And Our Evolving Debates About Gender.” https://www.npr.org/2018/11/19/669192536/naturenurture- and-our-evolving-debates-about-gender
  • Bateman, Victoria (2019). The Sex Factor: How Women Made the West Rich. Cambridge: Polity Press. Chapter 2: “Uncensored: The Secret Recipe of Economic Success.” (Distributed by instructor.)
  • Gyasi, Yaa. 2016. Homegoing. London: Penguin Random House.

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