The Great Antidote

Giandomenica Becchio on Feminist Economics

March 22, 2024 Juliette Sellgren
Giandomenica Becchio on Feminist Economics
The Great Antidote
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The Great Antidote
Giandomenica Becchio on Feminist Economics
Mar 22, 2024
Juliette Sellgren

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Giandomenica Becchio is a professor of economics and the history of economic thought at the University of Torino. Today, she tells us about feminist economics and why it’s an important criticism of neoclassical economics. Without understanding the role of typical gender and family roles, we cannot correctly understand or think about the true division of labor between genders in the workforce and in the home. 

She talks to us about how to measure these statistics, the history of the field, and the differences between types of feminists. We later discuss how to account for religion or other cultural preference-shaping institutions in measuring what equality looks like. She tells us about her favorite feminist economist, Barbara Birdman. 

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Giandomenica Becchio is a professor of economics and the history of economic thought at the University of Torino. Today, she tells us about feminist economics and why it’s an important criticism of neoclassical economics. Without understanding the role of typical gender and family roles, we cannot correctly understand or think about the true division of labor between genders in the workforce and in the home. 

She talks to us about how to measure these statistics, the history of the field, and the differences between types of feminists. We later discuss how to account for religion or other cultural preference-shaping institutions in measuring what equality looks like. She tells us about her favorite feminist economist, Barbara Birdman. 

Never miss another AdamSmithWorks update.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Juliette Sellgren 

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. Hi, I'm Juliette Sellgren, and this is my podcast, the Great Antidote- named for Adam Smith, brought to you by Liberty Fund. To learn more, visit www Adam Smith

Welcome back. Today on February 12th, 2024, I'm excited to be talking about something that we haven't talked about too much on the podcast, which is important. Female thinkers and specifically female economists, and the relationship between women and economics. We're going to be talking about Harriet Taylor Mill a bit too, so there's a lot of good stuff in store for us. I'm excited to welcome Jan Becko to the podcast. She's a professor of economics and the history of economic thought at the University of Torino, or Turin University as we say it in English, I guess, I dunno. The internet says multiple things. She's also the author of several books, including a History of Feminist and Gender Economics. Welcome to the podcast.

Giandomenica Becchio 

Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Juliette Sellgren 

So before we get started, what is the most important thing that people my age or in my generation should know that we don't?

Giandomenica Becchio (1.27)

Well, I think that concerning what I've been studying all my life, I think that sometimes times rights are taken for granted, and I'm talking about the womens’ rights and the position of women, particularly in the public sphere. So the place of women in the workplace, the place of women in politics and in the economy. So I really think that sometimes young generation now, they tend to take for granted that we are all equals and we have the same rights. And that's nothing concerned today about discrimination or gender biases or prejudice and so forth, which is not completely true, especially if we think about some countries, some geographical areas and so forth. And something else that maybe younger generation, generation does not know is that this equality, this gender equality has been the result of a very, very long history of fighting against gender prejudice and gender bias. And that's why I've been studying a research the way in which gender equality has been reached within the history of economic ideas and the history of economic thought. And I've also been researching if there were some moments in the history of this discipline where this gender inequality was somehow justified from a theoretical point of view. So that what is important for younger generation to understand the gender inequality is still an issue and there is a long story that has brought women to be as equal as men in the society.

Juliette Sellgren (3.42)

Yeah, and it's funny that you say this because I was preparing for this interview and I was thinking to myself, I'm waiting to be convinced almost because I do take it for granted in a way. I'm like, well, I do my bit, I'm just a woman and I study econ. Isn't that enough? And I think maybe part of what maybe our responsibility is or what we can do is just learn about it. So just being a woman is fine, but actually committing to learning about, well, we knew it wasn't quite equal, so how is it that now I have the opportunity to do this as well? I guess I kind of have some responsibilities to do that, and I guess that's why we're here. But apart from that, our econ club is doing a women and economics thing, and I was like, do I even have to go to that?

I don't know. And so I guess this is the time, this is a good time for me to hear this and talk about this, and I'm sure that although I think there are a lot of people my age who they are excited to be in a club with women in economics, I don't know if we quite understand why that's so significant and why we have to make that distinction. And so I'm kind of curious and we'll get into it as we keep going, but for I guess a first question, what is feminist econ and why is it important to make this distinction?

Giandomenica Becchio (5.26)

Sure. So feminist, feminist economics is a specific research field within the economic theory, which is regarded an paradox economic approach, which means that feminist economics criticize somehow mainstream economics, which is also called neoclassical economics. The history of feminist economics started roughly 50 years ago, but before going into the history of feminist economics, the aim of feminist economics is to highlight that in the market, in the economy, and in the social institutions such as the family, there was a division of labor which was inefficient and unfair because it was a division of labor basically based on women as care providers, caregivers, and men as breadwinners. This means that women were basically relegated within the domestic sphere providing care for the family, but care is an unpaid work. And when a few decades ago women started to enter the job market, their situation somehow got worse. In this sense, women since then were forced to carry the so-called double burden.

So they performed in the marketplace, so they get a job, and then they succeeded in not just in getting a job, but also in growing up as workers. So in making a career, in any field, in any possible field, nonetheless burden caring for the family was and still is almost totally on women. So feminist economics, sorry, while mainstream or New York, this division of labor as an efficient division of labor by using the theory of comparative advantage, the feminist approach to these gender issues within economics criticize the neoclassical or mainstream perspective by pointing out that the division of labor within the household as well as the division of social roles in the public sphere is not efficient because it implies a kind of segregation of women into a specific role. The role of care provider,

Besides the fact that it's not efficient, is also unfair. And why it's unfair, not because it's a matter of taste, because for mainstream economics, women are care providers and men are breadwinners because they like to be like that. It's just a matter of preferences. It's just a matter of taste, personal preferences, feminist economics underlined that very often these kind of social roles are not just a matter of preference, but they are very often they are the result of gender biases, gender prejudice, social pressure, and so forth, especially in some period of the history of humanity and in some geographical area. So this is the main, let's say, difference between feminist economics and mainstream economics. So it's a combination of feminism and economic theory. So using economic theory in order to explain the feminist stances, which the most important one is of course the gender equality, not just in the marketplace, but also within the household.

Juliette Sellgren (10.29)

Yeah, I guess I learned about this a while ago. I took a class on the USSR and they talked about the double burden a lot, where under Stalin there was this idea of, well, women have to work as equally as men, but the burden of, because the Politburo was all men, and especially, I mean, they didn't understand, but also GDP measurements don't even take this into account. So the way economics is structured leads you to not be able to see or measure or compare certain things, I guess, because in part, it was created solely by men or with a certain thing in mind. If you're using money as a form of measurement, then it's hard to measure monetary value of something that doesn't have one.

Giandomenica Becchio 

Precisely, yes. Well, yes. Yeah, yeah,

Juliette Sellgren 

Yeah, go ahead.

Giandomenica Becchio (11.29)

Yes. The idea that there is something that you can't measure in a traditional way by using money, for example, which is everything that is connected with the emotional sphere, let's say. So, and this traditionally, there is this idea that everything that is connected with emotions, with passion, with love, with compassion, with taking care of anything is that belongs to the feminine sphere. While everything that is connected with competition, bravery, hard work, self-made man. So this is a very diatom way of thinking about society. And you mentioned the Soviet system. It's true that in the Soviet system, women were somehow pushed to work. But it's also true that if we consider data of the time, Soviet Union was one of the worst country in terms of gender inequality basically for two reasons. The first one is that men never took responsibilities for the household on one side, and then on the other side, women were forced to work in some specific job sectors, which were less paid, and they barely were able to make a career. And these are two phenomena, which are also common almost everywhere, even today. But in the Soviet Union, that was very, very impressive. The first phenomenon is called pink ghetto. So women are usually pushed to work in job sectors, which are less paid, and they are a health sector, so they work as nurses in the hospitals in fast. The gardens to sectors are the less paid.

This is the first phenomenon. The second phenomenon is called glass ceiling, which means that women faced a lot of hard, a lot of difficulties to make a career, to break this glass ceiling. And these might be an effect of discrimination or self constraint. Self constraint, which is basically the effect of the fact that women, again, are taking care of their families of the household. And so they are very often ready. They tend to work part-time. They tend not to go abroad for missions or whatever. They tend not to perform extra hours because they have something else to do in their hustle. And this set of conditions makes very hard for women to build up a career. In fact, if we look at data, today's data, there's no sector in the world, in no country where we can say there is gender equality still today, everywhere. Also,

Juliette Sellgren (15.37)

What do we mean when we talk about gender equality? Because I would take, obviously, I see how something like nursing might be dominated by women, and that might be more of a stereotypical bias sort of situation where institutions push men and women in different directions. But what if naturally more women are inclined to do that? How do we know what equality looks like? Does it mean that the same percentages are in them? How do you measure that? How do you look at that?

Giandomenica Becchio (16.09)

Oh, gender equality or gender inequality, it is measured. It's measured in every sectors, in every sectors, and there are many data sets, world Economic Forum, ilo, the European Commission and Single States Institute on Statistics and so forth. So gender equality is measured and is, for example, in the economy, we have three big form of measurement for gender equality, gender labor gap, gender wage gap, and gender entrepreneurship gap. Gender labor gap is the measurement of how many women work in a country versus how many men work in that same country. Gender wage gap is the different wages, different wage gained by a man and a woman who are performing the same job at the same level. And gender entrepreneurship gap is the difference between the number of female entrepreneurship and the number of men entrepreneurship. So we have data, huge data sets, and we count basically the difference, the gender differences.

And as I mentioned before, still today, there's no gender equality in any single sector almost everywhere in the world. So there is a classification of countries where gender equality is higher and from the top down to the bottom, Scandinavian countries usually are in the top positions. While this year report, in this year report, if I'm not wrong, it's Afghanistan, the country where the gender inequality has reached the maximum, the maximum value, let's say. So besides the economy, we measure gender equality also in politics by measuring the different number of men and women in the parliament as premier, as head of states and so forth. We also measure gender inequality in education, which is the difference between young men who get a university degree versus young ladies who get a university degree. On this specific point, I can tell you that there is gender equality, which means that basically the gap is, it's almost zero in gender educational gap.

When we measure gender educational gap, the gap is almost zero. And this makes things even sadder because since a century ago, women were not allowed to enter academia, so they were not allowed to get a PhD or a university degree. So the gender inequality in the economy was somehow justified by the fact that they were less educated than men. But today, the situation is different men, women are as educated as men, but still there is a huge gender gap in the economy and even bigger in the political arena. Think about how many women who are leaders in their country or head of states versus the number of men. This is the most important thing. Every time we talk about gender equality, we have to be very careful and very focused on data. Data are very important, otherwise it's just, it might be something related with ideology or political stances, not we are talking about numbers, we are talking about measurement. That's why economics, it's important because in economic theory, we are used to combine theory and empirical studies. And we started with data. We started with number in order to first of all show the problem and second try to explain the reasons behind these inequality.

Juliette Sellgren 

So I kind of want to back up to how this field within economics even emerged. Was there a woman economist or just was there an economist generally maybe who was interested in this that kind of started looking at this, measuring this? How did this issue come about as a question for economics to deal with and who dealt with it? And I guess then we kind of know how it's being dealt with today, but we can kind of move on into, I don't know, solutions and culture and kind name.

Giandomenica Becchio (22.21)

But we have many founders of feminist economics, but we have a very important name for in the history of gender issues within economics. On the other side though, on the mainstream side of the story, Gary Becker, one of the most important Chicago economists in the sixties and in the seventies, he started to write about gender issues wide successfully to explain the division, the traditional division of labor between men and women within the family and outside in the market as efficient. As I mentioned before, many economists, especially women economists at the time, started to react against this explanation. And they founded and they started to write against this justification of the traditional division of labor between genders basically.

And in the nineties, Gary Becker got the Nobel Prize for economics. And so the is economics of the family is gender economics became very popular. So feminist economists decided to an association to fund the new research field, the feminist economics. So the International Association of Feminist Economics was founded in 1992, 1 year after Gary Becker won the Nobel Prize. So this is a very recent story, although there are so many women economists in the past who were focused in underlying the general, the so-called subjection of women. If we think about the subjection of women, of course we think about the John Stuart Mill booklet, which was published in 1869, but John Stuart Mill, who was a man, of course, he belonged to this story. But the story of the call for gender equality is full of women scholars and also women economists. Although the label women economist may be used only for economists of the past century, the last century, many, many women were engaged in this fight against the So-called Subjection of Women.

Feminism itself is a cultural movement that started at least two centuries ago in the 19th century within the tradition of classical liberalism in order to promote gender equality. Now, feminism is a multifaceted cultural and political movement with many political differences within feminist. But the very beginning of feminism is within the classical liberal tradition, which started, as I mentioned before, during the modern age with so many women scholars among them, also Harriet Taylor Mill, who was John Stuart's Mill’s wife. But there are so many more, and this is a thing that I really want to underline again, feminism is the call for gender equality has nothing to do, at least at the very beginning of the story with the superiority of women of the feminine sphere. It's the call for gender equality in the name of individual freedom. All people, all individuals are equals. They are all free regardless of gender and of course, also regardless of ethnicity, income and so forth. But let's stay focused on gender issues now. So this is very important. This is the very beginning of the feminist movement, and this started in the 19th century within the classical liberal tradition.

Juliette Sellgren (27.23)

So I'm trying to think. Nowadays we look at the displacement of men. There's been a lot of work on how men have been displaced in the workforce. And obviously the other side of that is that women have been entering the workforce, which is obviously not in itself a bad thing. But I guess when you take it alongside the fact that women are still doing, they have the double burden, right? They're doing the majority of household work. What needs to happen for the division of labor to become more aligned with preferences and equality of opportunity between genders for both to each? And I guess when will we know when we've reached that point, how do we know what that looks like? Especially if you can't measure household work the way that we measure economic activity, usually

Giandomenica Becchio (28.27)

Yes. Well, actually we can somehow measure also household activities. We can use time, for example, how many hours a man, a son and Father used to spend use to spend taking care of children how many days in a month? So we can measure not with money, but we can measure by using time first, this is just to reply to the issue of measuring household responsibilities, how we can relocate, let's say, so man's time within the household. Well, I think that there are two ways. One way is connected an economic policy agenda, which should be designed in order to make clear that we have parents and no longer mothers and fathers. So for example, instead of talking about maternity leave and paternity leave, we have to think about parental leave and possibly to nudge couples to split equally the leave and some other economic policies, which should be aimed just to nudge possibly more equal division of labor between parents. The other way is a long run project. It's all about education. We need to change our way of thinking about the role of men and women within the society. We need to overcome gender stereotypes. We need to accept that, not that women and men are free to choose a different way of living, and we have to get rid of any gender prejudice. But this is a very long run project. It's an educational project which involves families, the educational system and support. So that's what I think.

Juliette Sellgren 

Yeah. What have been some of historically, and I guess now, what have been some of the biggest obstacles and then I guess solutions or feats of feminist economics? What is it accomplished?

Giandomenica Becchio (31.48)

Okay. Well, obstacles were almost everywhere in the history of the subjection of women. And there were legal barriers for women to be responsible for their own money and properties. For example, there were barriers for their education. Women were prevented since a few decades ago, since the First World War. So to get an academic degree, for example, women were also, well, divorce and abortion were not allowed since a few decades ago. And of course, divorce and abortion are laws, rules that allow women to be responsible for their own choice, for their own life and body. Women were, these were let's say form of specific legal form of discrimination or which made the life of men and the life of women different. And then there were, and still there are some traditional way of thinking which consider men and women different, not from a biological point of view, which is of course nobody is going to deny it.

But the idea that a woman may as a man and vice versa is still in some context, maybe still a stereotype. So a woman might be an astronaut, a woman might be maybe may perform a typical masculine job. A woman may be the president of the United States, but how about man who wanted not to work outside the household, who want to perform the traditional figure of care providers? I think that there's still today kind of stigma against this choice made by a man. So feminist economist in the past three or four decades we're able to make clear that gender inequality still persist, and we need some form of some way of reducing this gender equality. Of course, there is no consensus, general consensus on the possible tools, the possible instruments for making a gender equality agenda. But for example, the international organization, gender equality is one of the aim to reach sooner than later.

And I think that this political agenda is important because when I was younger, much younger, when I was a teenager or a young student at college, I've been also always a classical liberal. So I was against this kind of discourse. I was even against feminism, not against, but not very sympathetic because I was totally, totally sure that gender has no importance. We are all individuals, and if we are free and if we live in a free society, everybody is going to flourish. If you can fulfill your dream, you will be free to reach whatever you like regardless of gender. So there's no need to push for a feminist agenda and so forth. But now that I grew up and I became much older, I must say that unfortunately this is not enough. I mean, we all agree on the fact that individuals are all equals, and if they are lucky enough to have been born and live in a free country, they can flourish and they can fulfill their dreams, their attitude by following their attitude and so forth.

But it's also true that discrimination persists and that there are so many stereotypes. There is social pressure and these factors, cultural factors are very important. So it's very important to make it clear that we need some feminist agenda. Again, feminist for me has nothing to do with an undervaluation of the male sphere or a hyper valuation of the feminine sphere. Nobody is superior to another, men are not superior to women and vice versa. Unfortunately, there are some sectors, not to mention some countries where this is still very, this inequality, this gender inequality is still very strong and harms women. And if a person is armed is hard, the society as a whole is in danger.

Juliette Sellgren 

Are there differences between you and some other feminist economists? Oh, so you outlined what you believe to be feminism and what you mean when you talk about that, but are there others who disagree and mean something that goes further or is less? And how does that kind of play out in the development of the field?

Giandomenica Becchio (38.43)

Yes, there are some disagreement among feminist scholars, let's say so, and feminist economist specifically, especially because since the second wave of feminism, which began after the sexual revolution in late sixties, feminism has been connected very strictly with the Marxist. So the majority of the feminist scholars are Marxist or were Marxist and are very progressive today, and they are very suspicious against classical liberal tradition. So there are very few classical liberal feminists today. It's completely different from the history of feminism of the beginning in 19th century. As I mentioned before, feminist, the first early feminist was totally belonged to feminist, to classical liberal tradition. In the second half of the last century, the majority of feminist scholars were Marxist because, and they connected capitalism. They blamed capitalism for patriarchy, let's say. So they consider patriarchy and capitalist as the two faces of the same coin. And this was a kind of in economics. This means that they promoted in a paradox perspective, which was totally against,

They supported Keynesian economics, post Keynesian economics. So they were different. So today there are very, very few feminist economists who belong to the classical liberal tradition. But there are, and so it's important that the feminist stance for gender equality does not belong only to the left traditionally, historically, it's rooted in the classical liberal tradition. And today we have classical liberal feminist scholars and economists, not the economist. So it's important to make this distinction because sometimes Feminism is connected with the left only the left, which is not true. And the main mistake of Marxian feminist feminism and Marxian feminist economics is that patriarchy belonged to non-capital system as well. So it's true that we have a patriarchy, we add patriarchy in a capitalistic society. T means the subjection of women and the fact that men are more powerful than women.

But it's also true that is everywhere as being and is everywhere, even in non non-capital society. Patriarchy was a very old phenomenon, much older than capitalist. And the other mistake made by Marxism and feminist Marxist is that that kind of merchant feminist scholars and economists, they thought that once the capitalism will collapse, also pastor [?] will collapse. So they never put a specific attention on gender issues. They were all about class and class struggle. And if I may add something, there is also on the opposite side of the political spectrum, there is also libertarianism and anarchists. Many libertarians in the past belonged to the feminist tradition. Somehow they made the same assumption of Marxist, but in the opposite side of the spectrum. So they consider patriarchy and the state as the two phases of the same coin, and they wanted to destroy patriarchy by destroying the state. So by destroying the political arena, the traditional political arena, and again, patriarchy or the subjection of women belongs to it to several tradition. It's not just connected with the notion of state. The classical liberal tradition is in the middle of these two extreme and classical liberals, they don't want to destroy society. They don't want to destroy the classical institutions. They wanted to pressure equality, in this case, gender equality.

Juliette Sellgren (44.45)

I still kind of struggle a little bit to wrap my head around kind of this balancing of feminist economics as a criticism of neoclassical economics and that the assumption that preferences are essentially explanatory of everything. But at the same time, I know a lot of folks, men who want to be stay-at-home dads, which I think is great. They're like, keep it a secret. I'm like, no, but it's fine. But also women who want to, but a lot of the girls I know, I know were 10 years early, I think, maybe not, but now. But a lot of them are worried that if they choose to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom, they really want that. They're not going to be setting the right example for their daughter or son or neighborhood. And that their role in the community has to be to uphold this idea that you can be a mother and that you can also work because otherwise the narrative is going to stay that women belong in the home.

And I understand this kind of worry, but isn't that kind of a hard line to tow too far? Because if a woman wanted to hypothetically stay home or not at all, isn't it hard to not become destructive if you want her to set an example or if she feels as though in order to go against the narrative she has to do something that is not aligned with her preferences? I think maybe what I'm struggling with is kind of the balance between, well, preferences explain some of it, but obviously not all of it. So what is the balance between where does the feminist in actual equality of opportunity?

Giandomenica Becchio (46.39)

Yes. First of all, feminist economics does not deny preferences and personal taste, feminist economic on the opposite side, neoclassical economics, especially in the seventies, eighties when Becker wrote his issues is books and articles on gender issues. Neoclassical economists, they consider tastes and preferences as the only possible way to explain division of labor. So this is the first point. So it's important to underline that sometimes we think to be free, but we are actually influenced by social pressure and gender stereotypes, or there is actually discrimination. So you mentioned the example of a woman who really wants to stay at home and not to perform any job outside and being a full-time mother and wife, and this might prevent her daughters to assume a role in the public sphere. Well, I think that we, every person, every parent should promote the happiness of children, daughters, and sons. So there's nothing wrong in preferring to be a full-time mother or a full-time father. There's nothing wrong in not wanting to be a mother at all. Nothing wrong. The only thing that is wrong is not to follow our own desire and dreams. So there's no cultural agenda to follow. We don't have to reduce our personal freedom in order to fight for the right fight. The right fight is to be free, but we have to be actually free. So how much is the degree of freedom in a society where there is gender discrimination?

It's really a free society, and if the society is not entirely free, it's not possible that individuals are free because the society is the sum of individuals. So again, the main difference between feminist economics and neoclassical economics, especially in the seventies and the eighties, is that personal preferences stay there. They are not denied, but it was about time to consider that they were not the only motivations for individuals, because we are embedded in a society with values, cultural norms, stereotypes, biases, and so forth, it's very hard to measure. The problem is that if you can measure preferences by using utility functions, it's very hard to measure this kind of extra economic factors. That's why the neoclassical economic theory is much more powerful because it's able to formalize the utility function, formalized preferences, while it's almost impossible to formalize, to measure, and to formalize gender stereotypes. For example, we can collect data, but it's very hard. We can't build up a gender stereotype function, let's say. So in order to show, okay, this is a gender stereotype, and these gender stereotypes just and gender stereotype makes this point less efficient and so forth. So that's the problem. The feminist economics, especially at the beginning, was less formalized and less powerful from a methodological and theoretical point of view, but was much more powerful from a cultural point of view.

Juliette Sellgren (51.59)

So I guess another question is, when you work with data, do you make exceptions in terms of, I guess maybe you'd call it realization of preferences, work preferences, stay at home, preferences, whatever, equality. I guess, do you make you control for religion or other societal, I don't want to call it pressure, but cultural explainers that I think enforce certain gender roles? Because I don't know if that sort of thing shapes your preferences and shapes the way that you live and choose? I would think that it becomes hard to say that you're unequal if your religion or something similar. I think that's just maybe the clearest example, I don't want to say tells you, but is how you are informed about your preferences. Does that make sense?

Giandomenica Becchio (53.03)

Yes, absolutely. So datasets try to be as much as neutral, as much as possible. So usually we measure the number of women performing, the number of women in the job market, the number of women in that specific sector, the number of married women who worked in a specific sector, the number of married women who quit the job after having the first child. The number of women who are fired after the first child, the number of women who never search for a job unless they are unmarried. So these are how do we build out? We build up a data set, we try to be neutral. Once you collect the data, of course you collect the data in a specific country or in a specific group, in a specific community, and then you compare. So when you compare data, you see differences between different countries, between different groups, between different ethnic groups in the same country, especially in multi-ethnic society like the us.

And once you have this data, you can compare and you can choose to be focused on a specific extra economic factor or cultural factor such as religion, for example, or the geographical differences between north and south in a specific country like Italy, for example. Or the differences between Asian women within the US versus, I dunno, Japanese women and so forth. So somehow you make an hypothesis and then you try to verify or falsify that hypothesis. For example, a religion is very important in certain groups, in certain ethnical groups and how these religion values, religious values affect the decision of women to quit their job once they get their first child and so forth. You can make so many hypothesis and then you have to verify and falsify by collecting new data.

Juliette Sellgren (56.16)

So there are kind of ways to account for large scale preferences. So I feel like this makes me a bit more comfortable. Yeah, because I'm always like, I don't even know my own preferences. How does someone else know my preferences? How could you model that? I don't think you could. How do we know when everyone is realizing their preferences? Does that make sense?

Giandomenica Becchio 

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Juliette Sellgren 

Do you have a favorite feminist economist?

Giandomenica Becchio (56.44)

I do. I do. My favorite, her name, one of probably the only one feminist economist who belonged to the classical liberal traditional, though she was somehow progressive. She has a progressive agenda, but she was totally against the idea that she was anti Marxist, and she was totally against the idea that there was a superiority of the feminine versus the masculine. She was completely supporter of the equality of individuals regardless of gender. But she pointed out the fact that women basically have been constrained in this ideal of the perfect housewife that was very popular in the fifties and in the sixties, especially in the United States, but also Europe, European countries.

And she was very, very active, not only in academia, in academia, so in Publish was also very active in writing columns, articles in newspapers, in order to explain what was going on and explain the fact that especially the division of labor within household was a form of subjection of women. She passed away 10 years ago. She was one of the founder of Feminist economics and also the International Association of Feminist Economics and the Association. She was a mathematician and an economist, PhD, Harvard, Harvard, PhD, and she was one of the most, the fiercest adversary of Gary Becker. She brought a lot in order to discuss with Becker and against the traditional approach of the mainstream economics regarding gender issues.

Juliette Sellgren 

I wish we had more time. I have learned so much, and I'm sure my listeners have as well. So thank you so much for taking the time. 

Giandomenica Becchio 

Thank you for having me.

Juliette Sellgren (59.19)

I have one more question for you. Yes. What is one thing that you believed at one time in your life that you later changed your position on and why?

Giandomenica Becchio 

Yeah. I mentioned before that when I was a student, when I was much younger, I thought that individual freedom was enough. We were lucky enough to live in a free country, in a democratic and free country, and there was no need to fight for equality among genders. Now it's different. I think that we have to at least talk about gender inequality and discrimination and social pressure and gender stereotypes and so forth. So I am still a believer of individual freedom, but I really think that we have somehow to organize an agenda in order to promote not just equality, but also freedom.

Juliette Sellgren 

Once again, I'd like to thank my guests for their time and insight. I'd also like to thank you for listening to the Great Antidote Podcast. It means a lot. The Great Antidote is sound engineered by Rich Goyette. If you have any questions, any guests or topic recommendations, please feel free to reach out to me at Great Thank you.

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