The Economist | A Proper Reckoning

Feminist economics deserves recognition as a distinct branch of the discipline

Had he lived to see it, Alfred Marshall, a 19th-century giant of economics, probably would not have celebrated International Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8th. “If you compete with us, we shan’t marry you,” he once gallantly warned the fairer sex. In his book, Principles of Economics, he described the field as “the study of men as they live and move and think in the ordinary business of life”.  

Economics still has its problems with women. ...


The Economist, March 12, 2016

UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s

IAFEE member and Past-President Alicia Girón serves on the UN High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment…/unwomen/albums/72157665922350236

Posted 3/21/16

Bina Agarwal's "Gender Challenges" Released

This three-volume compendium brings together a selection of path-breaking essays on agriculture, property rights, and the environment, written over three decades. Combining diverse disciplines, methodologies and cross-country comparisons, the essays challenge standard economic analysis and assumptions from a gender perspective. They provide original insights on a wide range of theoretical, empirical, and policy issues of continuing importance in contemporary debates.

Volume 1:- spans the author's writings on agrarian change since 1981. It identifies gender inequalities in the impact of technical change in agriculture in Asia and Africa; the links between women, poverty, and economic growth processes; the statistical undercounting of women's work; and the key role of women farmers in food security. It also offers innovative institutional solutions as ways forward.

Volume 2 :- focuses on the author's paradigm-shifting work on women's property status in South Asia. It demonstrates the key importance of promoting access to property, especially land, for women's economic empowerment; details gender inequalities in inheritance laws, public policies, and land struggles; and presents the bargaining framework for understanding and overcoming these inequalities.

Volume 3:- traces the relationship between gender and environmental change. Critiquing ecofeminism, it outlines an alternative theoretical framework. Also, based on the author's fieldwork on community forest governance, it demonstrates how a critical mass of women can significantly improve conservation. Finally, the author reflects on which features of feminist scholarship make for an effective challenge to mainstream economics.

Media coverage:

New York Times, Letting (Some of) India’s Women Own Land

Launch of Bina Agarwal’s Gender Challenges by Amartya Sen Youtube:

The Sunday Guardian, Fighting gender prejudice with analytical approach:

India Today (interview), Indian Women Must Chart Their Own Path

Caravan magazine, (interview), "Owning Property Empowers Women in Unique Ways": An Interview With Bina Agarwal

Business Today (interview), Bina Agarwal, Prof at Manchester University, on undercounting of women in workforce

Letter to President Erdoğan of Turkey

H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
President of the Republic of Turkey
T.C. Cumhurbaşkan Genel Sekreterliği
06689 Çankaya, Ankara

Via Email:

President Erdoğan:

On behalf of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), we are writing to deplore the coup attempt and express our concern over the actions of the Turkish government against academics in Turkey. These include travel abroad ban for academics, suspension of 15,200 education staff, and the ordering by the Higher Education Council (YÖK) of resignation of all Deans from both Turkey's Public and foundation universities. We understand that some universities also have taken actions against academics who are the signatories of the peace petition earlier in 2016. IAFFE condemns strongly and unconditionally these actions against academics, and expresses its heartfelt support for the academic community in Turkey.

The International Association for Feminist Economics is an open, diverse community of academics, activists, policy theorists, and practitioners from around the world. Our common cause is to further gender-aware and inclusive economic inquiry and policy analysis with the goal of enhancing the well-being of children, women, and men, regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin. We are deeply concerned about the actions that jeopardize well-being of all and violate the freedom of expression, including academic freedom, of our members and other academics who have signed the peace petition. 

We urge the Turkish government and Turkish authorities to respect the basic rights of academics and their institutions, and call on Turkey observe the international human rights conventions to which it is legally bound, as well as norms of academic freedom essential in all democratic societies.


Joyce Jacobsen, President of IAFFE

Executive Committee of the Board of Directors
Cecilia Conrad, Board Chair
Silvia Berger, President Elect 
Ann Mari May, Executive Vice President & Treasurer
Ebru Kongar, Executive Vice President & Secretary
Diana Strassmann, Editor of Feminist Economics


Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım
Office of the Prime Minister 
Başbakanlık 06573 Ankara, Turkey 
Via facsimile +90 312 417 0476; +90 312 403 62 82; + 90 312 422 26 67

Bekir Bozdağ
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 3370

The Honorable John F. Kerry 
United States Secretary of State
US Department of State 
2201C Street NW 
Washington, DC 20520

Ambassador Serdar Kılıç
Turkish Ambassador to the United States
2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW 
Washington,DC 20008
Fax: 202.612.6744

Ambassador John Bass
American Embassy Ankara
110 Atatürk Blvd
Kavaklıdere, 06100 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: (90-312) 467-0019

Ms. Victoria Nuland
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs 
US Department of State
2201C Street NW 
Washington, DC 20520
Fax: 202-736-4462

The Honorable Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations, CH-1211
Geneva 10, Switzerland

Sent August 4, 2016

In Memory of Barbara Bergmann

I became a feminist at age five, when it became obvious to me that you needed your own money to be an independent person, which was what I wanted to be when I grew up. – Barbara Bergmann

IAFFE notes with sadness the death of Barbara R. Bergmann, a passionate advocate for women, children, and disadvantaged minorities and one of the most important figures in feminist economics.

Bergmann was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1927, the daughter of immigrants who had fled the anti-Semitism of Eastern Europe. She remained a New Yorker at heart throughout a life journey that led her to high-level government posts in Washington, DC, and top positions in academia. While attending Cornell University on a scholarship, she developed a strong concern for racial discrimination, which later extended to a concern for gender discrimination.

Graduating with a BA in mathematics and economics in 1948, she found that the forces of recession and discrimination had narrowed her job prospects to typing. She was eventually hired for a position in the public inquiries division of the New York office of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, becoming head of the unit after a year. Bergmann continued her education at Harvard, where, as a woman, she was at first not allowed to be a teaching fellow. She developed an interest in computer-simulated economics, which helped convince her that economics should be based more on observation and field research than solely theorizing. The belief that “economists’ theories… are by and large nothing but (possibly untrue) stories made up by economists sitting in their offices,” stayed with her through her career. She received a PhD in economics in 1959.

In the 1960s, Bergmann served as Senior Staff Economist in the Council of Economic Advisors during the Kennedy Administration, Senior Economic Adviser for the Agency for International Development, and as an advisor to the Congressional Budget Office and the Bureau of the Census. She later became a faculty member at the University of Maryland and at American University, with a two-year stint at Brandeis University. She was a founding member and President of IAFFE, and a contributor to the first issue of Feminist Economics, which honored her work and concern for real people more than airless theories in a 1998 special issue (Volume 4, Issue 3). The issue includes Marianne Ferber’s eloquent biographical note:

Bergmann also served as President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (ASE). In 2004, she received the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award of the American Economic Association (AEA) for improving the status of women in economics and creating an understanding of how women can advance in the academy. Upon retirement, she was named professor emerita of economics at American University and the University of Maryland, but it is fair to say she did not retire. She continued writing, as a regular contributor of articles and book reviews to Feminist Economics and later as a blogger for the Huffington Post.

Bergmann did groundbreaking work on the economics of race and gender, social policy on employment discrimination, childcare, and poverty, and the computer simulation of economic systems. In the early 1980s, she took the lead in analyzing the position of “housewife,” noting the economic and other risks for women of this “peculiar institution”; in the 1990s, she critiqued Gary Becker’s new household economics using her trademark blend of intellect and irreverence, finding his theory of the family “preposterous.” Over the last few decades, she actively engaged in public policy debates ranging from social security to affirmative action, childcare, and welfare policies. Her books include: The Economic Emergence of Women, In Defense of Affirmative Action, Saving Our Children From Poverty: What the United States Can Learn From France, Is Social Security Broke? A Cartoon Guide to the Issues,and America’s Child Care Problem: The Way Out. A generous mentor, she inspired generations of economists, statisticians, sociologists, and others through her significant contribution to feminist scholarship and her promotion of feminist economics in the economics discipline and curriculum.

She was married for 46 years to Fred H. Bergmann, who died in 2011 and was a biochemist who served as head of the genetics grants program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is survived by a daughter, Sarah Bergmann, a son, David Bergmann, and three grandchildren.

American University, in Washington, DC, will hold a memorial service celebrating the life of Barbara Bergmann on April 28, 2015, at 3:00 p.m., on the second floor of the Katzen Arts Center.

May, McGarvey, Kucera featured in "The Economist"

Ann Mari May, Mary McGarvey and David Kucera research featured in “The Economist"

An article recently published in Kyklos by Ann Mari May, Mary G. McGarvey and David Kucera entitled, “Gender and European Economic Policy: A Survey of the Views of European Economists on Contemporary Economic Policy” is featured in an article in the February 15, 2018 issue of The Economist magazine

The research by May, McGarvey and Kucera examines differences in views of male and female economists in universities with doctoral programs in economics in 18 EU countries. Their study finds differences in views between male and female economists in all five areas of public policy examined and provides further evidence of the need for women to participate in the formation of public policy.
Ann Mari May and Mary McGarvey are located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and David Kucera is located at the ILO in Geneva, Switzerland. 
Read more at:
Posted February 25, 2018

Remembering Lois B. Shaw

Many of you will remember Lois, who was an early member of IAFFE and attended many annual conferences.  She also was a guest editor, along with Nancy Folbre and Agneta Stark, of a Feminist Economics issue on Gender and Aging (July 2005). I am sorry to report that her daughter, Rachel Shaw, let me know last week that Lois passed away on September 10. Her husband Dick predeceased her last year. Lois and Dick had four children, and Lois spent many years as their primary caregiver.  She said it was reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique that changed her life and led her to resume her education and earn a doctorate in economics (she had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley).

Lois spent much of her career as an economist doing research on women’s employment issues, including women’s retirement and the impact of the US Social Security system on reducing poverty among older women. After receiving her PhD in economics from the University of Michigan, she worked on developing the National Longitudinal Surveys at Ohio State University.  She lived in the Washington, DC, area for several decades, working at and retiring from the US General Accounting Office (now called the Government Accountability Office).  After retirement, she joined the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, where she worked on many studies over the years, often but not always on older women.  Until just a few years ago, she was still serving as a peer reviewer of our work before publication.   

Lois was always active on policy issues and she was also a founding member of a small-DC based volunteer group called the Economists’ Policy Group on Women’s Issues, chaired by Barbara Bergmann and myself.  The highlight of our activities was ranking the presidential candidates in the 1992 election on their stance on women’s issues; as one of the first such efforts by a group of economists, it got quite a lot of media play! Lois devoted the same thorough scholarship to uncovering the candidates’ policy positions (before the internet) as she did to all her professional work.

Those of you who knew and worked with Lois might like to send a note to:

Rachel Shaw, 12904 Ardennes Avenue, Rockville, Maryland, 20851, USA

Or an email to Rachel at

A memorial service will be held for Lois on Saturday, November 12, at 11:00 the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Drive, Rockville, Maryland, USA.

With sadness but with fond memories of Lois,


Heidi Hartmann, President
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Washington, DC 20036 USA

See Washington Post obituary at

Creating economic opportunity in Uganda

Former IAFFE Research Assistant Ashley van Waes helps create economic opportunity in Uganda.

Ashley worked in the IAFFE office at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in 2014. Among other things, she helped to coordinate IAFFE's 2014 Annual Conference in Accra, Ghana.

See the story at:

IAFFE Statement on Immigrant & Travel Restrictions

The following is a Statement by the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) regarding Executive Orders restricting immigration and travel.  IAFFE is committed to supporting all IAFFE members who are impacted by such executive orders.

IAFFE Statement on Executive Orders Restricting Immigration and Travel

As an international organization, we believe that free interchange among scholars, students, and activists from around the world is crucial to the creation of knowledge for the benefit of society. We are therefore deeply concerned about any executive order that restricts immigration from a set of countries and creates new and unreasonable barriers to travel, particularly for refugees. In addition to flying in the face of long-established American values of fairness, decency, and freedom of religion, such executive orders create serious obstacles to many of our organization’s members, who now may be prevented from pursuing valuable research, teaching, and learning activities that involve crossing national borders. We believe that such orders will have serious long-term consequences for the progress of knowledge, and for the state of communities across the globe, and that any such order needs to be reversed.

Board of Directors
International Association for Feminist Economics
February 16, 2017

Agarwal Honored by French Ambassador

Bina Agarwal (former President IAFFE) was conferred the prestigious French civilian distinction, Officier de l’Ordre du mérite agricole (Officer of the Order of Agricultural Merit) by H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, on 5 July 2017 in New Delhi.

The honour comes in recognition of her path-breaking and deeply insightful research in the fields of sustainable development, food security, gender and land rights, environmental governance, and the political economy of agrarian change.

On the occasion, Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler said, “ Bina Agarwal’s pioneering work on gender inequality in property and land, as well as on environmental governance, has had global impact. These issues are of significant concern internationally and have now been included even in the UN’s sustainable development goals. I am delighted to bestow this honour on her on behalf of the French government."


Posted August 6, 2017