'I Occasionally Learn Something': Paul Samuelson, Gender Bias and Discrimination Before 1973
29 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2018 Last revised: 7 Aug 2018
Date Written: June 30, 2018
This paper offers a historical perspective on economists’ treatment of women, through exploring the case of Paul Samuelson. Some of his remarks about women in the economy and in economics were famously considered deprecatory. We place them in the context of the discussions of discrimination in his textbook, Economics, and his interactions with female students and colleagues. Drawing on correspondence as well as published work, the paper reveals a complex set of attitudes: Samuelson recognized very early that women were held back by discrimination and wrote about it with a depth not seen in other textbooks. But his experience and support of women he knew did not mitigate some of the prejudices he held about women in general. It was when challenged over some of his statements that he apologized and adopted a more reflexive stance.
Keywords: Samuelson, Gender, Textbook, Women in Economics
JEL Classification: A10, A13, A14, B20, B29, B31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation