'Can you type?' or 'Why men dominate the economics profession!'

International Womens Day is a good day to look at the work
of Elinor Ostrom the first women to win a Nobel Prize for
economics, she had to battle to become an academic in the 1950s and 1960s.

This is from her biographical paper 'A long polycentric journey'

Looking for a job in the 1950s as a female and
as a new college graduate was an “instructive”
experience. The first question in every interview
was whether I had typing and shorthand
skills. After working for a year as Export Clerk
in a Cambridge electronics firm, I finally landed
a position as Assistant Personnel Manager in a
distinguished Boston firm that had never hired
a woman for any position above secretary. I
volunteered to work for several months without
pay to convince them I could do the job.
That turned out to be unnecessary, but I still
had to prove myself repeatedly.

When I returned
to Los Angeles in 1957 and applied for
a professional position in the Personnel Office
at UCLA, I was greatly relieved to learn that I
had received a strong recommendation frommy
Boston employer. This was particularly gratifying
because I had been able to diversify the
firm’s staff, previously all white and Protestant
or Catholic, to include several new employees
who were black or Jewish.

Graduate School
While I was working in public personnel on
the UCLA campus, I thought I should obtain a
master’s degree in public administration. I took
one graduate seminar per semester for a year,
decided that I liked graduate work, and began
to think about pursuing a Ph.D.
Admission to the M.A. program on a parttime
basis had been routine, but admission
to a doctoral program and obtaining an assistantship
so I could pursue full-time graduate
study were far from routine. The graduate advisor
in economics strongly discouraged pursuit
of a Ph.D. in economics because I had so
little mathematics background (due to earlier,
poor academic advice), but he did approve of
an outside minor in economics if I pursued a
Ph.D. in political science. The graduate advisor
in political science strongly discouraged me
from thinking about a doctorate, given that I already
had a very good “professional” position.
He indicated that the “best” I could do with a
Ph.D. was to teach at some city college with
a very heavy teaching load. My earlier experience
with finding a professional position in
Cambridge led me to ignore this warning and
apply for an assistantship so I could pursue a
Ph.D. on a full-time basis. Fortunately, I was
granted an assistantship.
Surprisingly, the Financial Aid Committee
awarded four assistantships to women that year
after 40 years without a woman on the faculty or
as a Ph.D. student. The four of us learned midsemester
that this decision had been strongly
criticized at a faculty meeting. Some faculty
members were concerned that allocating four
out of 40 assistantships to women was a waste of
departmental resources. They feared that none
of us would obtain good academic positions,
which would harm the department’s reputation.



Anonymous said…

Seeing that you’re a green advocate (and blogger) I wanted to reach out and see if you were interested in an article that I recently have written. It's on the Olympics and the steps they're taking to go green and decrease the environmental impact that it has. While sports is something far from the topic of your blog, I think that you will find it interesting and informative, and not overwhelming on the sports content, besides a few facts on the last Olympics, it is primarily about the Olympics going Green.

I'm looking to spread awareness of the fact that even though the Olympic Games are fantastic and unifying, they are it's quite a carbon-rich event and are not that environmentally sound.

Nerissa Barry

Popular posts from this blog

Fidel Castro Obituary – by Hugo Blanco

HOW IS POLITICS DONE IN PERU? Protest against neoliberalism and ecocide in Peru.

Elinor Ostrom's Rules for Radicals