It's been almost a year since this site launched. It's transformed and reinvented itself a few times and as much as I have wanted it be the mistress of the ship, in many ways, I have been more the creative servant of it's need to create impact. When I speak of impact, I think of not only sustainability, eco sheets, fair trade clothing and whole foods, I think of the intersectionality of feminism, economics, race, gender equality...shall I go on? Our resident essayist, Katharine Ransom offers another example of how these big issues are already injected in how we perceive our lifestyles based and how maybe those perceptions (and the social values that accompany them) experience a transformation too.
The Feminist Economics journal is the publication of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE). The journal was founded by Diana Strassman, the Carolyn and Fred McManis Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Rice University. It is co-edited by Günseli Berik, Economics Professor at the University of Utah. The journal is interdisciplinary and has an international audience: it’s associate editors and editorial board come from 20 countries. The journal produces 4 publications per year, which include introductions, articles, and book reviews. The journal seems to revolve around 6 thematic groups: Feminist Theory and Economics, Formal and Informal Labor Markets, Reproductive Sphere, Macroeconomic Context, Income Poverty and Capability Deprivations, LGBTQ Economic Issues, and Land, Agriculture, and Rural Development. Although there are overlaps and cross-cutting themes between the groups, they help the editors of the journal better organize the content submitted.
I reviewed the articles published in the last two years, which included 10 issues. One of the first articles that caught my eye is “If you’re happy and you know it: How do mothers and fathers in the US really feel about caring for their children?” (2014) by Connelly & Kimmell. The article discusses whether women really do enjoy child care more than men. The authors use in-depth econometric analysis of several data sets to determine whether women receive more pleasure from child care than men do, and they discuss why these perceptions have pervaded our society. Connelly & Kimmel (2014) use: “time-diary data with its accompanying emotions information three ways. First, we use descriptive statistics and ad hoc regressions to describe the gender differences in time use and emotions experienced during those activities. Then, we extend the definition of child caregiving time to include time spent with children present. Finally, we construct an aggregate measure of well-being, an Unpleasantness Index (U-index), which determines the percentage of time devoted to activities that are experienced as unpleasant” (p. 4).
Connelly & Kimell (2014) concluded that women do not enjoy child care more than men, and actually found that men enjoyed the responsibility more than women (p. 29). They suspected that women are more likely to be seen as better caregivers and expected to perform more child care duties due to cultural norms and difficulty maintaining executive level positions after having children (Connelly & Kimell, 2014, p. 29). However, their research did not focus on the reasons why this phenomenon occurs and they suggest their need to be comprehensive measurements for happiness, in order to understand why women do not enjoy child care as much as men (Connelly & Kimell, 2014, p. 30). These conclusions are based on aggregate data and are describing the country, as a whole. The results would, certainly, differ if the authors used their models on different demographic segments of the country.
The authors investigate three hypotheses; whether polygynous marriages produced higher consumption, labor sharing, or oppression of women (Ickowitz & Mohanty, 2015, p. 85). Some scholars suggest that polygynous marriages provide women with increased consumption, over monogamous marriages, and sharing of labor, which allows the wives more free time to pursue hobbies and careers. The authors found that polygyny in Ghana tends to be an oppressive structure, in which the women are subjected to domestic violence, more often than women in monogamous marriages (Ickowitz & Mohanty, 2015, p. 98). Polygynous wives are less likely to have decision-making power regarding their own health and large household purchases (Ickowitz & Mohanty, 2015, p. 98). They, also, found that women who enter into violent polygynous marriages tend to have mothers who were also victims of domestic abuse (Ickowitz & Mohanty, 2015, p. 99). However, those women do have some control over their own earnings (Ickowitz & Mohanty, 2015, p. 99).
The women who end up in these marriages are often sold or forced into them by parents or unfortunate economic circumstances. Much literature is available on how to improve the lives of women in uncertain economic climates without them having to enter into risky and detrimental relationships. Much of that kind of literature can be found in the journal, specifically when they host special topics.
One special issue (Volume 22, Issue 1) is on voice and agency; topics ranging from gender norms and the economy, child marriage, education, participation in collective actions, and autonomy were discussed. The introductory article, of this issue, provides the reader with background information on agency, voice, and women’s choices and how mainstream economics has not been able to address these issues due to the constraints in thinking and subsequent models/methodologies. According to Gammage, Kabeer, & Rodgers (2015), “as this volume demonstrates, the deprivations of voice and agency that characterize the lives of women and girls in much of the world typically result from adverse social norms and dictates regarding the behaviors and substantive freedoms of women. Restrictions on women's voice and agency posed by social norms are often exacerbated by poverty and other sources of socioeconomic disadvantage, as well as by legal discrimination that deny women access to key resources such as land and housing” (p. 23). The authors suggest policy changes, investment in education, legal initiatives, ending child marriage, supporting women’s engagement in peace processes, and acting on social norms by engaging with those who are oppressed (Gammage, Kabeer, & Rodgers, 2015, p. 25).
The book reviews are about 4 pages and provide an expert opinion on the most important books published in the feminist economics genre. One of the books reviewed, Gender, Development, and Globalization: Economics as if All People Mattered (2015) by Lourdes Benería, Günseli Berik, and Maria S. Floro, was an excellent read. I read it last year, shortly after it was released, and the information is detailed, well organized, and highly relevant. According to İlkkaracan (2016), “the volume stands as a comprehensive reference book as well as excellent teaching material for academics and researchers. It is also geared toward informing policymakers and practitioners of gender and development. Reaching out to such a broad audience is very much in the spirit of feminist economics, which advocates for a more accessible and alternative economics” (p. 152). I highly recommend anyone who has an interest in the subject to read this book; it will provide the breadth and depth that is hard to find about the subject.
I now know I have the skills to write that kind of article, because I have had experience creating that kind of content, albeit less involved. I, also, joined the International Association For Feminist Economics, signed up to volunteer for their various committees, and requested to serve as a Book Reviewer or Article Referee for the journal. Not only will I receive print copies of the journal and have full access online, the IAFFE provides syllabi for gender related economics courses. The contest of these courses will prove extremely helpful for developing my second independent study and creating future academic works.
Benería, L., Berik, G., & Floro, M. (2016). Gender, development, and globalization : Economics as if all people mattered (Second ed.). New York, NY: Routledge
Connelly, R. & Kimmel, J. (20 November, 2014). If you’re happy and you know it: How do mothers and fathers in the US really feel about caring for their children? Feminist Economics, 21(1), 1-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13545701.2014.970210
Grammage, S., Kabeer N., and Rodgers, Y.M. (29 October, 2015). Voice and agency: Where are we now? Feminist Economics, 22(1), 1-29. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13545701.2015.1101308
Ickowitz, A. & Mohanty, L. (06 February, 2015). Why would she? Polygyny and women’s welfare in Ghana. Feminist Economics, 21(2), 77-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13545701.2014.992931
İlkkaracan, I. (10 August, 2016). Gender, development, and globalization: Economics as if all people mattered. Feminist Economics, 22(4), 152-155. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13545701.2016.1213410