Monday, 3 November 2014


Economics has always been androcentric (male centered) in nature, whether one considers the methodology or the content of the discipline. Such theorizing has totally left women out of the analysis though they play an active role in the economy. Consequently policies that are based on such knowledge has been gender blind. The discipline therefore is not a reflection of reality and to have a more realistic and holistic approach the epistemology has to change. Feminists have advocated the adoption of feminist epistemologies to make the analysis within economics more real to life. It is not sufficient to have models that fit the prototype of what science is. It is more important to that the models look into real life situations involving both men and women for both are agents, who take decisions in an economy given a number of constraints.

The intent of research is to investigate situations, problems and concepts so as to augment existing conditions. No single research can claim totality, however it can be comprehensive. For that, it has to first recognize the issue in its proper form for it to be subsequently addressed in an effective manner. In this context it becomes imperative to understand the meaning of the term gender. Gender does not mean biological sex. Gender in short is a social and cultural construct, which patterns ones cognition on the basis of actual or observed differences between males and females. This construction of gender is all pervasive and economics is by no means an exception!

Tracing the very history of the subject makes it very apparent that all classical and neoclassical economists have been totally androcentric in their approach to theorizing. They have all along relegated women to the marginal roles in the labour market and most of them have been dead against women working for paid employment. If women are mentioned it is either to negate them from economic life or it is just a 'by the way' reference that is made. Women were only kept within the realm of the home and or the service industry. Their work was always related to nursing, nurturing, caring, cleaning, and maintaining the home. Due to this the economic models too do not include women as a variable to be considered. after all they had no place in the market then how can they ever figure in the model or the prototype of the market? logically therefore they got left out. None of the problems faced by women were even a matter to be discussed by classical neo classical writers. This kind of an attitude led to gendering domains in the economy where women and men were compartmentalized as belonging to inside and outside areas respectively . Further such domains have also been attached with values - all connected to cash. The domains assigned to men, being more market oriented, and hence lucrative enjoys the higher status, as compared to the domains assigned to women. Such domains are visible every where in the economy as also within economic theory. Feminist economists have been critical of such attitudes and have suggested alternative epistemologies. As a feminist economist, I do agree with the others who have criticized this kind of a stereotypical androcentricism within my discipline. It is important there fore to rewrite nearly all economic theories. This then opens up new avenues of research and a possibility of reflecting reality  in theory.

If economics professes to study human behaviour then it must do so. The assumption 'ceteris paribus' needs to be dumped as it is never true! Such a methodology will never represent the reality of the whole. Economics then stands incomplete by representing only half the human race !