Feminism and the History of Economic Thought


Participants in this minisymposium have been asked to consider what difference it would make to the history of economic thought if its prac-titioners took feminist theory seriously. Two answers sprang immedi-ately to my mind: first, it would make a great deal of difference, and the incorporation of feminist questions and insights into the history of economics is long overdue; second, as these papers show, precisely what difference taking feminist theory seriously might make depends upon which feminist theories historians choose to make use of. A growing number of feminist science-critics have begun to inves-tigate how the sciences have contributed to the maintenance or erosion of gender inequality. These scholars differ in background (they include natural and social scientists, philosophers, and historians), in the na-ture and depth of their treatment of philosophical and sociological is-sues, and in their views on gender difference, epistemology, and the proper role of values in the sciences. But they share a concern to ex-pose and explain “androcentrism ” or “male bias ” in the sciences, ways in which scientific work has emanated from male experiences and served male interests (Economics has received less than its share of such criticism, and the papers here are a valuable addition to this literature.) ’ Though they are far from rejecting all scientific work as 1. For a survey of this literature, and a very preliminary outline of a feminist critique of economics, see Seiz (1992). Ferber and Nelson (1993) is a collection of papers providing feminist perspectives on economics

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