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Women, Economics and History: Diversity within Europe

Editors of the special issue: Astrid Agenjo Calderón (Universidad Pablo de Olivade), Magdalena Małecka (University of Helsinki & Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), and Manuela Mosca (University of Salento)

Expression of interest and abstract: January 25th, 2021

Notification by the editors: February 7th, 2021.

Deadline for submission of full papers: August 25th, 2021.

Workshop: Sept-Dec. 2021

Publication of the issue: June 2022

The literature on the history of economics that focuses on the presence of women in economics has recently grown exponentially. Suffice it to think of the volumes edited by Dimand, Dimand and Forget (1995 and 2000), the huge bibliographic work by Madden, Pujol and Seiz (2004), the handbook by Madden and Dimand (2019), as well as the very recent book by Becchio (2020). Moreover, numerous studies on women’s participation in economic debates or on the role of women in economic institutions in the historical perspective are currently in progress.

Some of these works cover a very wide area. For example, The Routledge Handbook of the History of Women’s Economic Thought includes studies on the USA, India, Latin America, Japan, China, Africa, the Arab world and Europe (Italy, Austria, the UK, Russia and the Soviet Union). While recognizing the urgent need for an inclusive global perspective, this call for papers narrows its focus to the diversity within Europe for two main reasons. First, there are no historical works on women in economics specifically devoted to this geographical area. Second, a broader coverage would make it more difficult to analyse the complexity of the different European contexts, especially the less studied ones, which is the main aim of this special issue of Œconomia.

This call for papers seeks to stimulate the reconstruction of the divergent historical paths of the many European realities that are likely to have produced a differentiated substratum of thinking about women in economics and their place within the economy. We intend to attract papers that discuss the deep diversities within Europe with the aim of linking the analysis of women in the history of economic thought to the focus on their intellectual traditions, properly contextualizing it within women’s different countries, regions and periods. The special issue aims at covering a wide time span, taking as a starting point the Enlightenment, the period when associations by women activists were created. We welcome and encourage contributions on any later period, including recent and contemporary history, considering specificities linked to the two World Wars, the Cold War, revolutionary movements, the creation of the European Union, and other major historical and political events and processes that have marked the history of Europe.

Examples of different perspectives that can be adopted to tackle the heterogeneity of European histories include:

  • Women as economic researchers. We know that women were not absent, even in the early developments of the discipline, but they were erased from its official history. The greatest effort made by historians of economic thought to date has been to bring the names of women out of the darkness, to give them visibility, and it is worth continuing to do so. Thus, biographies of European women interested in economic topics across different time periods and analysis of their writings are welcome.

  • Cultural history and intellectual history. Women did not write and publish like men, and very often we cannot find their economic thought in published books or articles. They often worked in economic institutions, seldom in universities, and they often did not sign their writings. Here intellectual history intertwines with cultural history, and hence attention has to be paid to private and personal sources in order to reconstruct women’s economic thought.

  • Impact, influences and traditions. The history of economic thought deals with ideas, their impact and their reception. The historical reconstruction of the impact of women’s ideas on reality, their influence on subsequent interpreters, and their links with traditions of thought is a very difficult task in women’s studies (Fuster and Birulés 2021). Here the relevant categories are those of network (within a generation) and transmission (among generations), in order to trace the circulation and the survival of their ideas.

  • History of women’s emancipation. We welcome contributions that study women’s commitment to emancipation (when it involves economic reflections) from a historical perspective. The analyses might also examine the history of economic institutions for the promotion of gender equality in various European countries.

  • History of gender economics. Investigations of the roots, the origins and the development of the economics of gender in European countries are encouraged. Influenced by home economics and household economics, the new home economics adopted a standard microeconomic approach to study household economic decisions, labour and demographic issues. The same neoclassical analytical framework was then extended by the new discipline of gender economics in order to study gender differences and their economic implications, especially in the labour market and in marriage.

  • History of feminist economics. It is equally important to look at the roots, the origin and the development of feminist economics in European countries, uncovering gender-aware conceptions of economics long before the institutionalization of feminist approaches. All analyses that use history in order to adopt a feminist perspective and to propose a reformulation of economic theory based on the idea that economic agents are not gender neutral are welcome. Here a broad definition of economics should be adopted in order to avoid the distinction between the formal and informal sector, to consider the hidden contribution of women to the growth of wealth, to look at the labour market from a feminist perspective, to take into account the labour of caring, to elaborate on alternative indicators of human development, and to propose new economic explanations of gender discrimination (see Jacobsen 2020).

  • Historiography. We invite contributions on how and why women have been represented, misrepresented or absent not only from most economic studies, but also from the history of economics. Contributions could investigate how historical studies approached, or ignored, the topic, and how feminist perspectives could inform, or change the way in which women are addressed in the history of economics and the history of economic thought.

  • Orthodoxy/heterodoxy. The economics of gender stands in the realm of neoclassical economics, while feminist economics is considered to be a heterodox approach. The latter shares its dissent regarding the neoclassical tradition with other heterodoxies, but it shows elements of misalignment with them as well. In order to deepen and articulate their possible interrelations, contributions from a range of perspectives (Socialist, Marxist, Institutional, Evolutionary, Austrian, Post-Keynesian, and other) are encouraged.

Procedure and timeline: Researchers who would like to be considered for participation in this special issue of Œconomia should submit, via email attachment, the title of their paper, an extended (1,000-1,500 words) abstract, and the affiliations of all authors. This information should be sent to by January 25th, 2021 at the latest. Authors whose contributions are selected by the editors will be notified by February 7th, 2021. Full paper submission is expected by August 25th, 2021. During the last quarter of 2021, a workshop will be organized at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where authors will be invited to present and discuss their papers. This event will depend on financial constraints. The normal process of peer review, revisions and acceptance of papers is expected to end by May 2022. For further information, please contact the editors of the special issue or send a message to


Becchio, Giandomenica 2020. A History of Feminist and Gender Economics. London-New York, Routledge.

Dimand, Mary Ann, Robert W. Dimand, and Evelyn L. Forget (eds.) 1995. Women of Value: Feminist Essays on the History of Women in Economics. Brookfield: Edward Elgar.

Dimand, Mary Ann, Robert W. Dimand, and Evelyn L. Forget (eds.) 2000. A Biographical Dictionary of Women Economists. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Fuster, Àngela L., and Fina Birulés 2021. A Feminine and Feminist Story of Transmission. In E. Laurenzi and M. Mosca (eds.) A Female Activist Elite in Italy: Its International Network and Legacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jacobsen, Joyce P. 2020. Feminist Economics. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Madden, Kirsten K., and Robert W. Dimand 2019. The Routledge Handbook of the History of Women’s Economic Thought. London-New York: Routledge.

Madden, Kirsten K., Janet A. Seiz, and Michèle Pujol 2004. A Bibliography of Female Economic Thought up to 1940. London-New York: Routledge.

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