Financial History 144 Winter 2023 - Page 15

AEA Women Members , 1886 – 1948
All doctorates Economics doctorates
Decades
Total number
of women
Number
Percent
Number
Percent
1886 – 1899 92 8 9 1 1 1900 – 1909 38 12 32 7 18 1910 – 1919 114 23 20 16 14 1920 – 1929 161 59 37 42 26 1930 – 1939 123 43 35 26 21 1940 – 1948 508 139 27 108 21
Source : Data on AEA memberships are taken from the membership lists found in the Publications of the American Economic Association , Handbook of the American Economic Association , supplements to Economic Studies , Bulletin of the American Economic Association , and American Economic Review . The source used to identify doctoral degrees for women members is ProQuest .
Decade
Women Persisters with Doctorates in Economics
Number of doctorates in economics
and remained for the first two decades of the 20th century .
When formal marriage bar policies were not in place , informal practices effectively prevented women from being hired in higher education . In Goldin ’ s view , women who graduated between 1900 and 1920 were required to choose “ family or career .”
During the 1920s , women began to openly challenge views on marriage and career . Barbara Solomon notes that educated women started to consider another choice — marriage and career . These changing views were reflected in alumni surveys , such as the one conducted by the
Total number of individual women members
Percent women members with economics PhD
1900 – 1909 7 38 18 1910 – 1919 18 61 30 1920 – 1929 48 103 47 1930 – 1939 73 155 47 1940 – 1948 69 135 51
Source : Data on AEA memberships are taken from the membership lists found in the Publications of the American Economic Association , Handbook of the American Economic Association , supplements to Economic Studies , Bulletin of the American Economic Association , and American Economic Review . The source used to identify doctoral degrees for women members is ProQuest .
Radcliffe College Alumnae Association on the 50th anniversary of the college . In this survey , 73 % of respondents thought that women could successfully combine marriage and a career . Changing views were also evident in national surveys like one conducted by Fortune magazine in 1936 , which showed that three-fifths of women hoped to marry within one or two years of graduation and two-fifths expressed the desire to work after marriage . Finally , changing views about marriage and career were apparent in the public pronouncements of educational leaders such as Ada Comstock , president of Radcliffe College , who proclaimed in 1929 that , “ We have come to see , I believe , that marriage is essentially far more compatible with continuation of a woman ’ s career than has been assumed .”
The challenging of existing norms about marriage and career for women was , however , dealt a blow when unemployment rose sharply and the notion of work as a genderbased privilege emerged again during the Great Depression . The implementation of marriage bars rose sharply in the 1930s , even finding their way into legislation .
The Economy Act of 1932 , signed into law by President Herbert Hoover , contained a famous provision ( Section 213 ) known as the “ married persons clause ,” indicating that whenever personnel reductions took place in the Executive Branch of the government , “ married persons were to be the first discharged if their spouse was also a government employee .” Controversial from its inception , the married persons clause remained in place until June 1937 . Despite the gender-neutral language , the administration of the act was certainly not gender neutral .
The act adversely affected women in government jobs throughout much of the Great Depression , and it was a model for state legislation in many instances . In the end , differing cultural norms related to marriage — reflected in law or practice — were only one reflection of the economy that made the notion of a “ free market ” ring hollow for women — even those trained in the catechism of the free market .
Ann Mari May is a professor of economics with courtesy appointments in history and women ’ s studies at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln . She was a founding member of the International Association for Feminist Economics .
This article was excerpted from Gender and the Dismal Science : Women in the Early Years of the Economics Profession , by Ann Mari May . Copyright © 2022 Ann Mari May . Used by arrangement with the publisher . All rights reserved .
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