Gender bias in economic policies: UK scholar Professor Diane Elson

29 August 2012

Most economic policies appear to be gender neutral, but upon closer examination can be seen to have a marked male bias when considering them in the light of imbalanced gender relations in society.

So says leading feminist scholar Professor Diane Elson from the University of Essex, who will deliver the 2012 Ted Wheelwright public lecture at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 29 August.

Professor Elson is a sociologist and a globally renowned feminist economist who has published extensively on gender and macroeconomics, development and human rights. She has also acted as adviser to UNIFEM, UNDP, and Oxfam.

In her talk, 'The financial crisis and its aftermath in the United States and United Kingdom: a feminist perspective', she will discuss the role of gender in the global financial crisis, and address the validity of various claims currently being made in the media.

"Media commentators in US and UK have pointed to a crisis structured by gender relations. One suggested that if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Brothers and Sisters, a financial crisis would have been far less likely. Others described the ensuing fall in output and employment as a 'mancession'," Professor Elson said.

"Feminists in both countries have argued that subsequent austerity policies are undermining the improvements that had been made in women's economic and social rights."

Professor Elson adds: "Women's employment is more concentrated in the public sector than men's, and women make up about two-thirds of the public-sector workforce. As expenditure cuts have lead to loss of public sector jobs, women's unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels. At the same time, women's labour force participation has fallen, as increasing numbers of women are discouraged by lack of job opportunities and the problems of combining paid work with family responsibilities."

The Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture is presented by the Department of Political Economy in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. It is named in honour of one of the greatest contributors to the field of political economy in Australia, Edward Lawrence Wheelwright (1921 to 2007), who was an influential critic of global capitalism and orthodox economics, as well as being instrumental in the development of the breakaway political economy program at the University of Sydney.

Event details

What: 'The Financial Crisis and its aftermath in the US and UK', the 2012 Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture by Professor Diane Elson

When: 6 to 7.30pm, Wednesday 29 August

Where: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, Camperdown Campus. See map

Cost: Free, no bookings necessary

Contact: Jacqueline Chowns

Phone: 02 9036 5404, 0434 605 018,

Email: 184e123f1a2e053e3b2b1e2a1b374e5f3b170001221754496f524f47453b01