NYC college offering ‘Feminist Economics’ course

The New School of Social Research—a graduate school in Lower Manhattan—is currently offering a course dedicated to exploring economics through a feminist lens. 

“Feminist Economics” is a small seminar currently taught by Sheba Tejani, an assistant professor of international affairs at the New School whose research agenda focuses on how various international economic policies impact women and men differently. 

Students are learning about the gender wage gap, how women and men tend to pursue different career paths, the impact of globalization on women, the social reproduction of wealth, and other economics topics, according to the course description

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Rather than simply explaining how economic forces might hurt women, the description explains that feminist economics is “a way of radically reconceptualizing and reorienting the study of economics” in ways that are more “transformative” for women. 

To do this, students are exploring “feminist scholarship on epistemology, methodology, and economic theory,” and learning about how the assumption that everyone has “free choice and rationality” is, in fact, “gendered.” 

Though a syllabus is not available, the course description does indicate that students will debate the 1979 essay The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism, which was written by the current president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 

That essay—which is foundational to the field of feminist economics—argues in favor of a movement that blends feminist approaches to gender with a socialist critique of the economic order, all in hopes of creating a more liberated society. 

“As feminist socialists, we must organize a practice which addresses both the struggle against patriarchy and the struggle against capitalism,” that paper concludes, adding that both “men and women share a need to overthrow capitalism.” 

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While the course description itself doesn’t directly critique capitalism, it appears that the school’s economics department takes a uniquely anti-capitalist stance. 

The department’s current promotional video features Tejani’s colleague Anwar Shaikh, who also teaches economics, arguing that capitalism has “innate tendencies that must be regulated,” and questioning whether capitalism is “tolerable.” 

”On one hand [capitalism] produces this wealth, on the other hand it erodes many things that we generally consider to be worth having such as community, such as place, not to mention jobs in the future for many people, especially younger people,” Shaikh explains

Campus Reform reached out to Tejani for more information on her class, but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen