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History of Political Economy 36.2 (2004) 408-410

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A Biographical Dictionary of Women Economists. Edited by Robert W. Dimand, Mary Ann Dimand, and Evelyn L. Forget. Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar, 2000. xxviii; 491 pp. $150.00.

This is the first biographical dictionary of women economists and as such it deserves to be celebrated as a first whose time was long overdue, for reference works on women scientists in almost all other disciplines had appeared well before the arrival of the new millennium.

Notable about the organization is the absence of a section that provides a good historical background to the subject matter or survey of the women scientists such as one finds, for instance, in the Notable American Women series (1971 and 1980). While there is an eleven-page introduction that explains how the volume came to be and what it encompasses, the position women economists found themselves in and their contributions are much better grasped if placed within the context of their access to education and employment both in and out of academe. The other notable absence is an index, which would have allowed the user to make quick cross-checks to find connections between these women economists, who strongly associated with and collaborated among themselves, and to search by economic field, university affiliation, and the like.

The editors "do not present this volume as an exhaustive account of women's contributions to the discipline" (xvii), and they are true to their word. It is a very modest volume, featuring only 124 women economists. Each entry is written by a contributing author, as a result of which the quality and style of the entries vary.

The question who to include in such a work is always difficult. The editors admit that their selection of entries is somewhat arbitrary, but that each economist in the volume is important. The scope of the volume is more closely demarcated by excluding women economists currently active in the profession. Thus most are deceased or retired. And the editors specifically sought out women outside the anglophone realm, one of the volume's attractions (xvi).

A number of the women economists featured in the volume are already fairly widely known. For instance, in the age of political economy one finds entries for the two great popularizers of political economy, Jane Marcet and Harriet Martineau, as well as entries on Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Helen Dendy Bosanquet, Clara Collet, Harriet Mill, and Rosa Luxemburg. For the profession defined as economics there are Mary Paley Marshall, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Beatrice Webb, Joan Robinson, [End Page 408] Rose Friedman, Anna Schwartz, Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter, Shirley Almon, and Margaret Gordon.

That leaves many names not generally known to the typical economist. But what has been unearthed is at least as fascinating as known women economists, with the high point of the work the large number of non-British and non-U.S. women economists the editors chose to include. The volume features fourteen women economists from the German-speaking world, all dislocated by or casualties of World War II. Of the Austrians, Martha Stephanie Browne, Gertrud von Lovasy, Ilse Schüller Mintz, and Maria Szecsi emigrated to the United States, although Szecsi returned to Austria after the war. Helene Lieser emigrated to France. Käthe Leichter was a victim of the Holocaust. While two of the German women economists died in the Holocaust (Cora Berliner and Cläre Tisch), the rest escaped. Charlotte Leubuscher and Hilde Behrend made their way to Great Britain; Fanny Ginor, to Switzerland and then to Israel; Frieda Wunderlich and Käthe Bauer-Mengelberg, to the United States.

Two economists defy national identification: Polish-Russian-German Rosa Luxemburg and the Russian-Swiss Natalie Moszkowska.

Eight Canadian women economists appear in the volume: Agatha Chapman, Irene Spry, Michèle Pujol (to whom the volume is dedicated), Rosalind Blauer, Anna Koutsoyiannis, Lise Salvas-Bronsard, and Mabel Timlin. Almost as well represented with six women are the French: Huguette Biaujeaud, Flora Tristan, Julie-Victoire Daubié, Clémence-Auguste Royer, Marguerite Thibert, and Mary Meynieu.

The countries of...


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