Skip to main content


  • MARY A. YEAGER (a1)

This address urges a more self-aware business history. It uses autobiographical details and select biographies of literary figures and women professionals to shed light on the subtle and not-so subtle inequalities associated with business and capitalism. The deliberate tease in the title—WOMEN CHANGE EVERYTHING—is intended to convey the power of word placement to change interpretive meaning and significance, and the power of history to modify understanding. Modifiers are key to an appreciation of the constraints and opportunities that have framed the lives and experiences of women in economies and societies. Even footnotes function in this address as modifiers, uncannily revealing sources of authorial intent and inspiration and throwing light on literary and historiographical hierarchies.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Available formats
Hide All

1. Some credit for the choice of title goes to reformer activist Naomi Klein, who uses the vague noun identifier, “this,” to capture the complex processes of climate change, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus The Climate (New York: Simon & Schuster, Kindle edition 2014). I position WOMEN as a noun to stress women’s agency. The spacing between words in the title is deliberate. I follow the lead of two literary lights who underscored the significance of word placement in grappling with meaning. In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf was asked to speak about women and fiction. She penned this reply: “The title women and fiction might mean … women and what they are like; or it might mean women and the fiction that they write; or it might mean women and the fiction that is written about them; or it might mean that somehow all three are inextricably mixed together.” (Quoted by Robert A. Colby, in a review of three books in Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 39, No. 3[Dec., 1984], 339). T.S. Eliot thought word placement important enough to write a poem about it. In “Little Gidding” he writes of “every phrase and sentence that is right[…]where every word is at home, taking its place to support the others … the complete consort dancing together.” (Quoted by Sam Leith, Financial Times, “Much to learn from Yoda, public speakers still have,” June 9, 2015, p. 12.)

2. The late David Jones, a Montana preacher’s son, tradesman, and carpenter, explained the 106% during a casual conversation, August 2014, Rollins, Montana: “That seemed just about right” he quipped, “for an over-educated daughter of a Montana farmer.”

3. Some scholars insist that women and men, in their capacities as historical actors or observers, must self-identify with feminism in order to earn the label. I grant the historian interpretive and analytical leeway to make a persuasive case, one way or another, based on sources and context. Thus, a woman or man might resist the label and yet embrace or undermine the goals of feminism, depending on how feminism is conceptualized, experienced, and understood. Historically, the word “feminism” has usually provoked modifiers, often more negative than positive. Archdale, Helen E., “The Women’s International Movement in Relation to General Internationalism,” The Australian Quarterly 20, no.4 (December 1948), p. 17, notes that Webster’s International Dictionary, 1927, defined feminism as “The theory, cult and practice of those who hold that present laws, conventions and conditions of society prevent the free and full development of woman, and who advocate such changes as will do away with undue restrictions upon her political, social and economic conduct and relations; also the propaganda for assuring these changes.” H. W. Fowler’s Modern English Usage, 1940, defined feminism as “Faith in Women; Advocacy of Rights of Women; Prevalence of Female Influence.” For an analysis, see especially, Karen Offen, “Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach, Signs 14, no.1 (1988), 119157 (

4. Moviegoers, if not Montana buffalo lovers, might recall watching “Where the Buffalo Roam,” the semi-biographical 1980 Universal Studio film, based loosely on the life of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and starring Bill Murray and Peter Boyle. Buffalo found Montana a refuge after being nearly wiped out in the early 1800s by a government-supported hunting campaign. South Dakota actually boasts a higher cattle-per-person ratio than Montana. Ray Yeager’s choice of South Dakota as the site of his first farm, and the timing of his move to Montana, mattered. According to rough estimates of data from the United States Census of Agriculture: 1945: General Report, Vol. II, Ray Yeager would have been one of nearly 69,000 farmers in South Dakota in 1945, where all farm land accounted for about 43 million acres. The average value of farms (land and buildings) equaled $11,124. The average acreage per farm of all land in farms in South Dakota in 1945 was about 626 acres. Yeager’s farm size is not known, but data on South Dakota farms in the 1940s suggest that more than half the farms were between 100 and 500 acres in size. Given that mom and dad singlehandedly ran the farm, that average size seems likely. Farms of more than 1000 acres accounted for about 10 percent of the total. Montana, by contrast, hosted 40,000 farmers in 1945, but farmland accounted for nearly 60 million acres (p. 21). The average acreage per farm of all land in farms in Montana in 1945 was 1,557 acres (p. 73). Montana in 1945 had far more big farms of more than 10,000 acres (777) than did South Dakota in 1945 (254) (p. 102). But, South Dakota farmers at least suffered far fewer crop failures than did Montana around the same time (p. 38).

5. Inequalities framed the battle for water rights. See the report of Chief of Irrigation Investigations, Mead, Elwood, Irrigation Institutions: Discussion Of The Economic And Legal Questions Created By The Growth Of Irrigated Agriculture In The West (New York and London: Macmillan, 1910), especially the discussion of Montana, 297308. A more recent history of ditch irrigation in the Snake River Valley of Idaho and Washington state is Fiege, Mark, Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999).

6. Families have long played a central role in women’s perceptions of life and society, and they have been theorized about by scholars for centuries, for better and worse. Some see families as nurturing love nests, others as snakepits of competitiveness. They are both. The varieties are infinite and ever-changing. In positioning the adjective “farm” before “family,” I signal a type of family peculiar in its rural-ness, perhaps, but reflecting a common 1950s patriarchal structure with structural inequalities of gender and sex. How familial interactions shape a family member’s identity and understanding of power inequities is the subject of a large literature. One text that captures the multiple cross-cutting tensions of familial life in the context of changing economies and societies is Beck, Ulrich and Beck-Gernsheim, Elisabeth, The Normal Chaos of Love, translated by Ritter, Mark and Wiebel, Jane (Frankfurt, Germany: Polity Press, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2004 reprint), esp. 144, “Love or Freedom: Living Together, Apart or At War,” which situates the family historically in the center of the gender struggle. For a dyspeptic view of gender struggles inside contemporary families, see feminist Wolf, Alison, The XX Factor: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World (New York: Crown Publishers, Random House, 2013).

7. The argument about physical strength and gender differences still rages on, especially in press coverage of the military. For one contemporary female military officer’s view of gender differences, see “Lt.Col. Kate Germano on the Marines and Women,” New York Times, July 28, 2015 ( A historically informed analysis is Goldstein, Joshua, War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), esp. 59102, which examines the historical record of female combatants, gender differences in anatomy and physiology, and the role of female military leaders. Gender analysis has uncovered a strong historical association between masculine traits such as physical strength and the alleged superiority of men and everything masculine in patriarchal culture, including business firms. Roper, Michael, Masculinity and the British Organization Man Since 1945 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994, reprinted 2003), 105132, explores the cult of toughness. Connell, R. W., Masculinities (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2nd ed., 1995, 2005), shows how manual workers define masculinity through heavy labor. Bederman, Gail, Manliness And Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), focuses on two women and two men, showing how each of them in different ways interprets and applies notions of masculinity in different contexts, linking ideas about strength and manliness to issues of race, class, and power. An explicit focus on physical strength emerges in the literature on nursing, especially with the entry of males into the nursing profession. See Evans, Joan, “Men Nurses: A Historical and Feminist Perspective,” Journal of Advanced Nursing 47 (2004): 321328 (doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.03096.x) and the medical technical analysis offered by Miller, A. E., MacDougall, J. D., Tarnopolsky, M. A. and Sale, D. G., “Gender Differences in Strength and Muscle Characteristics,” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 66, no. 3 (1991): 254262, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health,, accessed September 4, 2015

8. Butler, in central southwest Oklahoma, emerged after the Cheyenne–Arapaho Reservation was opened for non-Indian settlement in 1892. Linked by rail, the town became a support center for local farmers who grew cotton, broomcorn, and wheat. Linda D. Wilson, “Butler,” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, (accessed September 5, 2015).

9. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Overview, hail caused the most crop damage in 1950, and South Dakota in particular was one of the hardest-hit states. See Most Harmful Weather Events between 1950 and 2011,

10. Ray Yeager’s Star Drive In theater opened in August 1952. Neither timing nor location were ideal. As the site of an outdoor theater, Conrad lagged twenty years behind Riverton (now Camden), New Jersey, where Richard Hollingshead, the son of the owner of Whiz Auto Products Company, built America’s first drive-in theater in 1932. “Wives Beware” was its first showing. Other Montana towns hosted outdoor movie theaters either earlier than Conrad or around the same time that Yeager launched his family enterprise. Lewistown, Montana, erected its first drive-in theater in 1944, followed by Deer Lodge, 1950; Plentywood, 1952; Libby, 1954; and Terry, 1955, Conrad was a small farming town of about 1900 people in 1950. Yet the entire state–which boasted a population density of just 6 people per square mile–was home to 39 drive-in cinemas by the late 1950s. Yeager’s drive-in had a capacity of about 150 cars, the average for most drive-ins. (For information about Montana theaters from, webcraft by virtualities, for New Jersey theaters see, University of Michigan; United Drive-In Theaters Association (UDITOA).

11. For information about the Star Drive In, see Conrad Independent Observer, August 5, 1952. For details on the history of the indoor Orpheum Theater in Conrad, see Cinema Treasures, accessed August 10, 2015 (, and Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce, accessed August 10, 2015. When constructed in 1918, the Orpheum Theatre of Conrad was allegedly designed to be on par with state-of-the-art theaters in larger cities, such as Great Falls, Billings, and Butte. Conrad’s theater included an orchestra that accompanied the opening night’s silent film. The history is unclear whether this theater was part of the Orpheum Circuit, a chain of vaudeville and movie theaters, founded in 1886 and operated until 1927, when it merged with the Keith-Albee theater chain, ultimately becoming part of the Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) corporation. Environmental historians might be interested to know that during the time of the theater’s revonvation in the 1990s, a mountain of coal ash was discovered in the dirt cellar. There is speculation that the first owners failed to remove the coal in the furnace, preferring to spread the burnt ash and pour water over it. Also found were a real estate agent’s cardboard boxes full of bluish business records, along with dozens of antique glass Coca-Cola syrup bottles (Cinema Treasures,, accessed August 10, 2015). In the 1950s, Theo Martin Kluth and Herbert Kluth of Shelby, Montana—a small town just 20 miles to the north of Conrad—purchased Ray Yeager’s Drive-In and Conrad’s Orpheum Theater. Theo Martin Kluth had worked as an usher and cashier at Shelby, Montana theaters in her youth, and after marrying Herbert Kluth in 1936, the couple invested and managed an aviation service, the First State Bank of Shelby, Par Oil Company, and Kluth farms. Herbert Kluth died in 1950, and sometime during the 1950s Theo Martin Kluth organized as Kluth, Inc., and invested in the Orpheum Theater. In 1960, Theo married a prominent Shelby banker, Rulon Bartschi. Theo Martin Kluth Bartschi was instrumental in organizing Interstate Amusements, Inc., in Twin Falls, Idaho, and remained active in the family-controlled businesses, serving as vice president and chairman of the board of the First State Bank. Kluth, Inc. sold out to Larry Flesch of Shelby in the 1970s. For details on the Kluth family, see Cut Bank Pioneer Press (), Golden Triangle News, Obituaries, October 30, 2002, accessed on the web August 10, 2015.

12. Quoting Knight, Frank, “Imperfect Competition,The Journal of Marketing, Vol. 3, No. 4 (1939): 366.

13. Levenstein, Margaret, Presidential Address, “Escape from Equilibrium: Thinking Historically About Firm Responses to Competition,” Enterprise & Society 13, no. 4 (2012): 19 (

14. Thrupp, Sylvia, “The Role of Comparison in the Development of Economic Theory,” Journal of Economic History 17, no. 4 (1957): 554570.

15. Self-making depends on learning and self-knowledge about what is learned. McCabe, Janice, “What’s In a Label? The Relationship between Feminist Self-Identification and ‘Feminist’ Attitudes among U.S. Women and Men,” Gender & Society 19, no. 4 (2005): 480505 (, accessed: 07/04/2014). A pioneering and now classic assessment of the self-making of several notable male entrepreneurs is Laird, Pamela Walker, Pull: Networking and Success since Benjamin Franklin (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2006). The link between self-making and female entrepreneurship, with a focus on Hetty Green, is explored in Yohn, Susan, “Crippled Capitalists: The Inscription of Economic Dependence and the Challenge of Female Entrepreneurs in Nineteenth-Century America,” Feminist Economics 12, no. 1–2 (2006), 85109 (; Regina Casteleijn-Osomo, “Comparing Sense-Making of Identities of Mompreneurs in Malta and Finland,” entrepreneurship master’s thesis, Department of Management and International Business, Aaito University School of Business (; Jane Greenway Carr, “‘We Must Seek on the Highways the Unconverted’: Kathryn Magnolia Johnson and Literary Activism on the Road,” American Quarterly 67, no. 2 (2015): 443470 (doi: 10.1353/aq.2015.0020). Sociologists, anthropologists, labor historians, and political economy have focused more on labor and the workplace. Prentice, Rebecca, “‘No One Ever Showed Me Nothing’: Skill and Self-Making among Trinidadian Garment Workers,” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 43, no. 4 (2012): 400414 (;Ulysse, Gina A., Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers in Jamaica: A Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica (London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), reviewed by Heather A. Horst, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15, no. 3 (2009): 643–644 (; Kondo, Dorinne K., Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).

In my own case, self-identification as a feminist took work, experience and learning. Intellectual guidance came from Sen, Amartya, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007). Sen argues that the task of acquiring self-awareness and an identity is never a static development, but ongoing, a product of intellect and emotions, of personality and background, of historical context and psychological predispositions, of a willingness to fight for beliefs associated with equality and justice for women in ways that are recognized by others. Self-making is a lifelong puzzle. Self-knowledge is never so secure that it cannot be questioned, at least in the face of situations that demand adaptation.

The extent to which life on the farm nurtured my feminism is still unclear to me. I find it difficult to disentangle the personal from the professional; life on the farm from the education that enabled my exit from farm life; and entry into academia and the professions, which embodied and reinforced gender biases as well. Scholars of the early women’s movement did not neglect agriculture or agrarianism as a seedbed of feminism, but those studies never gained traction among the scholarly elite based in large urban centers and elite educational centers. Nevertheless, scholars have continued to grapple what has been called “agrarian feminism.” See Georgina M. Taylor, “‘Ground for Common Action’: Violet McNaughton’s Agrarian Feminism and the Origins of the Farm Women’s Movement in Canada,” Ph.D. dissertation, Carleton University, September 18, 1997.

16. Agarwal, Bina, Humphries, Jane, Robeyns, Ingrid, eds., Amartya Sen’s Work And Ideas: A Gender Perspective (New York: Routledge, 2005). Humphries’ scholarship in economic history, particularly that involving debates about women’s roles and wages in the Industrial Revolution, is notable for its contribution to gender and feminist analysis.

17. The band festival was held in Lethbridge, Alberta, a town incorporated in 1892 and established as a city in 1906, named after William Lethbridge, president of the North Western Coal & Naviation Co. Beginning in the 1880s, with a production of “The Pirates of Penzance,” town boosters, including a later established Lethbridge Music Club, nurtured and sustained a musical tradition that included several all-female groups that won national and international recognition, among them the Glee Singers, Teen-Clefs, and the Anne Cambell Singers. (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.en/article/lethbridge-alta-emc/, article by Philip M. Wults, Margaret Nelson, 02/07/06, last edited 12/07/13).

18. Notable biographies of Joplin and other female rock stars include Echols, Alice, Sweet Scars of Paradise; The Life and Times of Janis Joplin (New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 1999);Smith, Patti, Just Kids (New York: Harper Collins, 2010). For insights into the sexism and inequalities in the rock music business, there is no better starting point than feminist rock critic Ellen Willis, especially Aronowitz, Nona Willis, ed., The Essential Ellen Willis (Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), which includes Willis’s contributions to Janis Joplin, “The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock ‘n’Roll, 1980.”

19. Chet Huntley, a plain-speaking reporter, was born in Cardwell, Montana, the son of a telegraph operator for the Northern Pacific Railway. In the 1960s, Huntley also became involved with a New York advertising agency, Levine, Huntley, Schmidt, Plapler & Beaver, where he earned a 10 percent share in the agency in return for putting his name on the agency letterhead and attending some agency meetings. He also owned a cattle farm in Stockton, New Jersey, which he promoted under his name before NBC raised conflict of interest and promotional concerns. The Big Sky Resort in Bozeman, Montana, is also a Huntley creation. See his memoir, The Generous Years: Remembrances of a Frontier Boyhood (New York: Random House, 1968). Details: Wikipedia.

20. UN translators were initially a privileged, predominantly male group, drawn from war-ravaged areas, speaking multiple languages. Only much later did women gain a foothold. See Helen Reynolds-Brown, “How I Became a UN Interpreter;” see interview by Louise Tickle, May 15, 2014, The Guardian,, accessed September 2, 2015; Zweig, David, Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion (Portfolio/Penguin, 2014, Kindle), considers UN translators among the most important and least visible workers in the world (, accessed September 2, 2015).

My dreams of being a translator for the UN were built on shaky foundations of high school Latin, the only (dead) language offered at Conrad Public High School. However, those dreams were nourished by a professor at Middlebury College, Neil Harris, who taught Latin by speaking it. Until my sophomore year in college, I intended to become a scholar of classical Latin and Greek. The National Junior Classical League, organized in 1936, had branches in Montana, whose members included aspiring students of the classical languages.

21. The risks are not confined to scholars. Sheryl Sandberg confesses that she was cautioned not to speak out or to share autobiographical details or complaints about sexism or gender biases in the workplace. Sandberg, Sheryl (with Nell Scovell), Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), 10, 67, 145.

22. In order: Alfred D. Chandler, Lou Galambos, Thomas McCraw, Morton Rothstein, Glenn Porter.

23. I relied on the archived list of presidential addresses, beginning in 1972. (The list before 1972 has not yet been compiled for online viewing.) In order of their election: Neu, Irene, “My Nineteenth-Century Network: Erastus Corning, Benjamin Ingham, Edmond Forstall,” Business and Economic History, 2nd Series, Vol. 14 (1985): 117;Wilkins, Mira, “Business History as a Discipline,” Business and Economic History, 2nd Series, Vol. 17 (1988): 17;Lamoreaux, Naomi, “Reframing the Past: Thoughts About Business Leadership and Decision-making Under Uncertainty,” Enterprise & Society 2.4 (Dec. 2001): 632659;JoAnne Yates, “How Business Enterprises Use Technology: Extending the Demand-Side Turn,” Enterprise & Society 7.3 (Sept. 2006): 422455;Pamela Laird, 2008, “Looking Toward the Future: Expanding Connections for Business Historians,” Enterprise & Society 9.4 (Dec. 2008): 575590;Margaret Levenstein, “Escape from Equilibrium: Thinking Historically about Firm Responses to Competition,” Enterprise & Society 13.4 (Dec. 2012): 710728. Another analytical angle is the extent to which gender also factors into presidential nominations: Do BHC members nominate regardless of sex/gender? Or, do they nominate scholars of their own sex more often? If this is so, what accounts for it? Do the nominations suggest the importance of networks? Value to the organization? Topics of interest? Even before the 2015 meetings ended, there were several conversations with members who playfully urged my consideration of a male nominee as the next president. Were they implying that we female presidents were disadvantaging qualified others (i.e., males?), that nominations should now rotate to equalize opportunities for men?

24. Jong, Abe de, Higgins, David Michael, and van Driel, Hugo, “Towards a New Business History?Business History, 57, no. 1 (2015): 529,, accessed June 7, 2015;Popp, Andrew, “History, a Useful ‘Science’ for Management: A Response,” Enterprise & Society 10.4 (2009): 831836, and the response by Godelier, Eric, “History, a Useful ‘Science’ for Management? From Polemics to Controversies,” Enterprise & Society 10, no. 4 (2009): 791806;O’Sullivan, Mary and Graham, Margaret B. W., “Guest Editors’ Introduction, ‘Moving Forward by Looking Backward: Business History and Management Studies,’Journal Of Management Studies 47, no. 5 (2010): 775790, do not mention biography except insofar as they critique antiquated company histories, but they urge greater self-reflection on the part of historians: “In ordinary times neither historians nor management theorists are especially prone to self-reflection. When they write about historiography, historians often write histories of historiography!” (p. 788). They cite as “enlightening and provocative” (p. 788) Telling the Truth of History by UCLA colleagues Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob. I found the format of a presidential address especially suited to self-reflection and to the task of reflecting on the lives and challenges facing other professional women. Biographies of businessmen and biographies of companies came to be regarded by a second generation of business historians as problematic and antiquated because of their narrowness and subjectivity. For a pioneering contemporary look at gender and racial issues associated with black economic empowerment in South Africa, which uses biography if not biographical method, see Decker, Stephanie, “Postcolonial Transitions in Africa: Decolonization in West Africa and Present Day South Africa, Journal of Management Studies 47, no. 5 (2010): 791813 (doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2010.00924x).

25. See the review of Adam Phillips’ Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst by Talitha Stevenson, Financial Times, May31/June1 2014, 11.

26. Ariane Daguin, opening plenary speaker of the BHC/EBHA conference, Miami, Florida, June 24, 2015. Daguin is CEO of D’Artagnan, a corporate purveyor of fine meats and foie gras, based in Newark, New Jersey. Midgley, David, ed., The Essential Mary Midgley, (London and New York: Routledge, Kindle ed., 2005), quoting Mary Midgley, 17.Nancy Fraser, Hanne Marlene Dahl, Pauline Stoltz and Rasmus Willig, “Recognition, Redistribution and Representation in Capitalist Global Society: An Interview with Nancy Fraser,” Acta Sociologica Vol. 47, No. 4 (Dec. 2004): 374–382. (http://www/ Accessed 19 May 2014,

Autobiography + biography = more women + more female voices, which ultimately leads to a gendered business history capable of addressing asymmetries of sex and power as well as a host of other inequalities. Women’s historians and literary scholars have made a persuasive case for biographical method as a tool to explore the lives, perceptions, thoughts, and experiences of women. On biography and the link to women’s history see Susan Ware, “Writing Women’s Lives: One Historian’s Perspective,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 40, No. 3 (2010): 413–435, (, access by UCLA Library, August 31, 2015). Ware argues that “no other field has demonstrated the symbiotic connection between biography and history better than the study of women and gender” (p. 413). Banner, Lois W., “AHR Roundtable: Biography as History,” American Historical Review 114, no. 3 (2009): 579586, discusses biographical method as a scholarly and a teaching tool. She notes that biography was embraced by pioneering women historians in the 1970s: “[W]e stressed the importance of uncovering the life stories of women forebears to serve as role models to define ourselves and our careers in a in a male-dominated, masculinized profession” (p. 579). Dubois, Ellen C., “Eleanor Flexner and the History of American Feminism,” Gender & History 3, No. 1(Spring 1991), 8190, illuminates the struggles that Flexner encountered as she began to publish about women. Flexner was especially disappointed with the reception to her biography of Wollstonecraft. Dubois emphasizes that anti-feminist attacks instensified after World War II. She cites, in particular, the work of Lundberg, Ferdinand and Farnham, Marynia F., Modern Woman: The Lost Sex (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1947), who castigated Wollstonecraft as a “classic neurotic, an unhappy woman displacing her personal failures onto a misguided indictment of ‘society’ for ‘wronging’ her sex.”

Given the male-dominated business world and more social-science leaning professions, including management, economics, science, engineering, it may be regretted but not surprising that business historians who have embraced biography have focused on predominately male-owned and -managed firms and male business leaders and/or professionals and academics. Exemplary as histories and biographies are the contributions of the late McCraw, Thomas M., especially Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction (Cambridge, MA, and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007),Prophets Of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams; Louis D. Brandeis; James M. Landis; Alfred E. Kahn (Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press, Harvard University, 1984), The Founders And Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, And Other Immigrants Forged A New Economy (Cambridge, MA and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012). Model collective biographies include Andrej Svorencik, “MIT’S Rise to Prominence: Outline of a Collective Biography,” Center for the History of Political Economy, Duke University, Working Paper No. 2013-19, revised January 2014; Harro Maas, “Making Things Technical: Samuelson at MIT,” Center for the History of Political Economy, Duke University, Working Paper No. 2014-01, January 2014. The business school professoriate has also seen the advantages of biography in teaching leadership. See Boas Shamir, Hava Dayan-Horesh and Dalya Adler, “Leading by Biography: Towards a Life-Story Approach to the Study of Leadership,” Sage 1, no. 1 (2003): 13-29, who suggest that “the telling of a life story is itself a leadership behavior. Leadership is a highly involving role in the sense that the role and the self are relatively undifferentiated. In other words, leaders are persons for whom the identity of a leader is a central and important part of their self-concepts, and for whom the exercise of the leadership role is a form of self-expression.” If one applies gender to this discussion, some obvious problems emerge, especially given that cultures have constrained women far more than men from narrating their own histories, and men have far outnumbered women as leaders.

27. Gordon, Charlotte, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives Of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (New York: Random House, 2015), 516, quoting Wollstonecraft in an advertisement for Letters from Sweden.

28. http://www.goodreads, Virginia Woolf, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” According to Wikiquote, the “anonymous” quote is inaccurate. Woolf actually wrote: “I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” Ch. 3 (p. 51), A Room Of One’s Own (https://en.wikiquote, last modified 25 July 2015).

29. The problem is that much of the old and new literature on business and capitalism overrides women as active change agents. Even Sven Beckert’s prize-winning Empire of Cotton (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Random House LLC, lst edition Kindle), which contains more than 130 references to women, includes women primarily as part of a subordinated labor force—which, of course, they were. But, a reliance upon a growth-enhancing, capitalist-industrial, commodity-oriented framework is, in my opinion, part of the problem, one that obscures as much as it illuminates the political, social, and cultural processes underpinning structural and gender inequalities. Jane Austen is one of the few female voices in Thomas Piketty’s Capital, where women’s role as growth promoters is limited to their role in reproduction.

I ask: Whose understanding and definition of business and capitalism is to be privileged? N. S. B. Gras, the pioneering father of business history, published Business and Capitalism: An Introduction to Business History (New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1939) as a teaching tool. He defined capitalism broadly as “a system of getting a living through the use of capital, which in turn we may regard as goods or trained abilities used in producing other goods or services.” Then, as was his wont, he added this dispeptic observation: “the term ‘capitalism,’ like ‘rheumatism’ and ‘indigestion,’ must be abandoned or differentiated. To be sure, discrimination in the use of the term impairs its propaganda value. Our interest here, however, lies simply in a better understanding of the subject” (p. vii). He presumes that men will “naturally”, save, invest, venture, plan, work, and achieve. Women, on the other hand, go unmentioned except as raw material for sneering symbolism. His efforts to analyze capitalism betray a conscious or an unconscious strain of misogyny and sexism. “The profit motive is a prolific mother of deformed children,” he writes, “but, there are other women with ugly offsprings” (p. 311).

What about the voices of women? How have they understood and defined business and capitalism? Gras’s research associate, Henriette M. Larson, has reminded us, “Business history [and, by extension, capitalism] is not a onetime discovery … it did not spring full blown from Professor Gras’ brow” (Larson Family Archives, St. Olaf, Northfield, MN). Ayn Rand defined capitalism as “the only system that answers yes to the question, is man free?”, and “a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned” (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal [New York: Signet, Penguin, 1967], 10). Or consider Naomi Klein’s understanding of “capitalism as industrialism, which promised liberation from nature,” in This Changes Everything, 10.

30. Atwood, Margaret, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (Toronto: House of Anansi Press Inc., 1st ed., Publishers Group West, Berkeley, CA, 2008), 35.

31. These thoughts and the questions below were provoked by Theodore M. Porter’s illuminating biography of the nineteenth-century Victorian and eccentric, father of the correlation coefficient, Karl Pearson: The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), vii, 4–9. Pearson argued that the subordination of women promoted the egoism of men, thereby weakening feminism while strengthening anti-feminism (Porter’s interpretation, 126). One source of inspiration was Mary Wollstonecraft, as evidenced by Pearson’s contribution to: “The Woman’s Question: Being a Paper Read at the Preliminary Meeting of the Wollstonecraft (?) Club,” July 11, 1885, (Porter reference, footnote #7, 128).

32. I am indebted to Theodore M. Porter, who raised “big” questions about a “little man” and the scientific profession, Karl Pearson, esp. Intro., Ch. 1, p.6.

33. Why literary biographies in particular? They stir the imagination! Kareem, Sarah Tindal, Eighteenth-Century Fiction And The Reinvention Of Wonder (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), and Sodeman, Melissa, Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015). Used judiciously, they provide a valuable source of information about women’s roles and perspectives on economic institutions, including the family, the market, wealth, education, inheritance, networks, and firms. Literary histories engage the study of occupation and identity in ways that sew links to culture, encouraging interventions into gendered discourses that are not always available in sources customarily tapped by business and economic histories. See in particular, Thomas Piketty’s use of Jane Austen’s novels to provide information about wealth and inheritance, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, MA, and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014), 2, 53–54, 105–106, 241, 411–412, 415–416. For select feminist economist critiques, see Kathleen Geier, Kate Bahn, Joelle Gamble, Zillah Eisenstein and Heather Boushey, “How Gender Changes Piketty’s ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century,’”; Perrons, Diane, “Gendering Inequality: A Note on Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” British Journal of Sociology 65, no. 4 (2014) (doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12114), 668-677). Historical scholarship that taps literary-minded business women include, Coultlrap-McQuin, Susan, Doing Literary Business; American Women Writers in the Nineteenth Century (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1990);Albertine, Susan, ed., A Living of Words: American Women in Print Culture (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995);Poovey, Mary, Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), and The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

34. Why academic economists? Given that business and economic history are orphaned offshoots of two different mainstream disciplines, economics and history, both of which historically have been male-dominated, women have been notable by their absence. I am WOMAN. I began to ask: Where are the women? Who are they? What are their contributions to theories of the firm and capitalism? How has the profession valued them and their scholarship? How do we account for the results?

Since the 1970s, biographies of women political and business leaders have multiplied. I myself have linked the economic biographies of two women of overlapping generations, each of whom made pioneering contributions to business and economic history. However, in preparing this address, I grappled with a somewhat different challenge: how to weave autobiographical details relevant to my own self-making as a business historian together with a collective history of particular women professionals, each of whom excelled and experienced disappointments in different aspects of their personal and professional lives. A source of inspiration and education is Jill Ker Conway, The Road from Coorain (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1989), True North: A Memoir (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1994) ,When Memory Speaks: Exploring the Art of Autobiography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1998), and A Woman’s Education (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, 2001).

35. Much of the Wollstonecraft material that follows is taken from Gordon, Charlotte, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (New York: Random House, 2015). The literature on both women is vast, but among the most significant is the following: Ferguson, Sue, “The Radical Ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft,” Canadian Journal of Political Science Vol. 32, Issue 03 (Sept. 1999): 427450 (

36. Gordon, 341. Business reaped the scorn that Wollstonecraft could not direct at her partner, Imlay. See also, Letters... in The Complete Works of Mary Wollstonecraft (Kindle edition). Wollstonecraft not only broke the male monopoly on travel writing, but also offered a critique of war (Letter 3, Loc 7014–7018 of 16314), the French Revolution (Letter 3, Loc 7025 of 1634–Loc 7035 of 16314), of business and business interests, mercantilism, and the pursuit of wealth. She purred with pride when a supper host told her bluntly, that she was a “woman of observation.” She had asked him “Men’s Questions” (Letter 1: Loc 6870 of 16314). She singled out commerce, property, and speculation as the root of many evils. Commerce, she complained, consumed time and sentiments (Letter X, 9017, 9489, 9729 of 16314, Letter XIII, Loc 8145, 8976, of 16314, Letter XXXII, Loc 10110 of 16314). She compared the systems of governance, the towns, the infrastructure, and the work and domestic habits of various classes she observed as she moved across northern Europe. In A Vindication of the Rights of Men: Reply to Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution (The Complete Works...[Kindle ed.]), she complained that “the demon of property has ever been at hand to encroach on the sacred rights of men, and to fence round with awful pomp laws that war with justice” (Loc 109 of 16314). She considered Burke’s defense of American independence indefensible, as it accepted “slavery on an everlasting foundation.” She regarded the English definition of liberty, linked as it was to security of property, as a “selfish principle” to which “every nobler one is sacrificed” (Loc 224 of 16314).

37. Mary Shelley’s attitudes about business were shaped by her own lack of funds and financial support and by the inequality of income and wealth she observed, as well as her response to traveling companions, conditions, and climate. She showed concern with her own sales figures and reputation, as well as society’s strictures, which required women to be self-effacing in the face of literary success. Her battles over inheritance stemmed from her father’s disapproval of her alliance with the poet Shelley (Gordon, 107, 211, 531).

The literature about Mary Shelley is almost as vast as that which analyzes the creature she created, but business historians have left to literary lights the task of harnessing the monster to the Industrial Revolution. See how Thomas Pynchon plots the journey from Frankenstein to modern-day robots: “Is It O.K. to Be a Luddite?” New York Times on the Web, October 28, 1984 ( 10/7/2015). See Emily W. Sunstein’s review of Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters by Anne K. Mellor, Keats-Shelley Journal 39 (1990): 207–210; Sussman, Charlotte, “Daughter of the Revolution: Mary Shelley in Our Times,” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Women Writers of the Eighteenth Century, (Spring/Summer), pp. 158–186,; Stephanie S. Haddad, Economist, 2, no. 1 (2010), 1, examines some of Shelley’s other writings. “Though all of the female characters mentioned were created by a female author, each of them has a very demeaning characterization. Shelley’s women are objectified, used, abused, and easily discarded. None of them, save Margaret, survive the novel and all of them live their fictional lives to serve a very specific function and impact a man’s life.”

38. Yeager, Mary A., “Lessons from Al, Revisited,” Business History Review 82.2 (Summer 2008): 309311. One consequence of my disciplinary training in business and economic history is that when I began to investigate the history of women, I continued to embrace “the firm” as a basic analytical category and to stress interactions and intersections between and among women and men in business and economies. Angel Kwolek-Folland’s pioneering Incorporating Women: A History of Women and Business in the United States (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998) used a different strategy, reflecting a disciplinary background in women and cultural history. Her foray into business preceded this synthesis and engaged architecture as well as social history and the history of gender. My introduction to Kwolek-Folland came through an editor for the of Johns Hopkins Press, Robert Brugger, who invited me to review the manuscript that became Engendering Business: Men and Women in the Corporate Office (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994). About the same time, Geoffrey Jones, series editor for the International Library of Critical Writings in Business History, invited me to assemble a collection of articles for a volume on women in business, which became Women In Business, 3 vols. (Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: The International Library of Critical Writings in Business History 17, Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc., 1999). Vol. 1 included my lengthy introduction and overview, ix–xciii, and “Will There Ever Be a Feminist Business History?,” 3–45, The bibliography in Vol. 1 combines the most significant publications about women and business in the literature of economics, business and economic history, gender and women’s history.

39. Yeager, Women in Business, Vol. 1, quoting Goransson, Anita, “Gender and Property Rights: Capital, Kin, and Owner Influence in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Sweden,” 283, 273.

40. Among them were many big questions inspired by a handful of intellectual historians and most female moral philosophers: “How do we understand capitalism—past and present—as both an economic system and a form of life?” (Nancy Fraser and Mary Midgley); “Where does women’s oppression come from? From men? From capitalists? Or the system? How do feminist writers explain the relationship between capitalism and the condition of women? (Nancy Fraser); What is a “feminist issue” and how has it been defined and framed in business history? In what spaces and where do women find their voices in business history? (Daniel Horowitz, “Feminism, Women’s History, and American Social Thought...”); Why do business historians want to put capitalism in the foreground now? What are the consequences for the study of women, gender, and business? Given that structures of inequality have assumed the most internalized forms—as in gender—do women have any real choices, other than trying to understand men? (David Graeber, Utopian Rules); Why has the women’s movement and feminism played such a minor footnote in dominant narratives of business history? Why has business played such a minor role in the history of feminism? (Sarah M. Evans, “Sons, Daughters and Patriarchy: Gender and the 1968 Generation,” and “Women’s Liberation,”; Glenna Matthews, Silicon Valley, Women, and the California Dream).

41. This necessarily brief synthesis builds on Cott, Nancy, “What’s in a Name? The Limits of ‘Social Feminism;’ or, Expanding the Vocabulary of Women’s History,” Journal of American History 76, no. 3 (1989): 809929;Evans, Sarah M., “Women’s Liberation: Seeing the Revolution Clearly,” Feminist Studies 41, no. 1 (2015): 138149 (, accessed 5/18/2015), and Sara M. Evans, “Sons, Daughters, and Patriarchy: Gender and the 1968 Generation,” AHR Forum: The International 1968, Part II, American Historical Review 114, no. 2 (2009): 331–347 (doi:10.1086/ahr.114.2.331, accessed 9/6/2015); Penny, Laurie, Unpeakable Things: Sex, Lies And Revolution (New York: Bloomsbury, Kindle edition, 2014);Enloe, Cynthia, The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2004);Ortner, Sherry B., “Too Soon for Post-Feminism: The Ongoing Life of Patriarchy in Neoliberal America,” History and Anthropology, 2014 (http://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1080/02757206.2014.930458), “Subjectivity and Cultural Critique,” Anthropological Theory 5, no. 1 (2005), 31–52 (doi: 10.1177/1463499605050867, accessed, at ucla, 1/23/2015), Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power and the Acting Subject (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2006); Fisher, Melissa S., Wall Street Women (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2012);Midgley, Mary, Are You an Illusion? (Durham, NC: Acumen Publishing Limited, 2014);Midgley, David, ed. The Essential Mary Midgley (London and New York: Routledge, 2005);Midgley, Mary and Hughes, Judith, Women’s Choices: Philosophical Problems Facing Feminism (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983);Tutchell, Eva and Edmonds, John, Man-Made: Why So Few Women Are in Positions of Power (Surrey, England and Burlington, VT: Gower Publishing Company, 2015);Fraser, Nancy, “Feminism, Capitalism, and the Cunning of History: An Introduction,” Working Paper Series No. 17, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (FMSG), Le College d’ etudes mondiales, (August 2012): 114 (;Horowitz, Daniel, “Feminism, Women’s History, and American Social Thought at Midcentury,” in Lichetenstein, Nelson, ed., American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), 191209; Sven Beckert, “History of American Capitalism,” Ch. 14, and Rebecca Edwards, “Women’s and Gender History,” Ch. 15, in American History Now, Eric Foner and Lisa McGirr, eds. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, Kindle edition, 2011); Brick, Howard, Transcending Capitalism: Visions of a New Society in Modern American Thought (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2015).

42. The most helpful interpretation and analysis of the predicament that some academic women find themselves in with regard to promotional ladders and gender schemas at work is sociologist Virginia Valian, Why So Slow? (Boston: MIT Press, paperback ed., 1999). See also Hewlett, Sylvia Ann, Off-Ramps and on Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007);Eagly, Alice H. and Carli, Linda L., Through the Labyrith: The Truth about How Women Become Leaders (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007). For a superbly powerful recent critique of contemporary, bureaucratized capitalism as well as academia and the professions, see anarchist/anthropologist David Graeber’s The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Publishing, 2015).

43. Mary A. Yeager, “Everywoman’s Entrepreneur: Five Women Consider The Fourth Factor of Production,” paper presented at the International Conference on Entrepreneurship in Theory and History, Department of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, European Cultural Center, Delphi, Greece, June 13–16, 2002. Unpublished conference paper, in author’s possession.

44. Ibid. The literature on Gilman is vast, with scholars of English literature and poetry, culture, and feminism far outnumbering economic and business historians. Of the latter, economic historians have shown more interest than business historians. Carol Farley Kessler, Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Her Progress Toward Utopia with Selected Writings (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press, 1995), 117129, includes “Aunt Mary’s Pie Plant [1906],”; Degler, Carl, ed., Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation between Men and Women As a Factor in Society by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1898; New York: Harper Torchbook ed., Harper & Row, Publishers, 1966); Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, Herland (New York: Pantheon Books, Random House, 1979);Lane, Ann J., ed., The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader (Charlottesville and London: 1st University of Virginia Press ed., 1999);Meyering, Sheryl L., ed., Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Woman and Her Work (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1989);Sheth, Falguni A. and Prasch, Robert E., “Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Reassessing Her Significance for Feminism and Social Economics,” Review of Social Economy 44, no. 3 (1996): 323337;O’Donnell, Margaret G., “A Reply to ‘Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Reassessing Her Significance for Feminism and Social Economics,” Review of Social Economy 44, no. 3 (1996): 337341;Hudak, Jennifer, “The Social Inventor: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the (Re) Production of Perfection,” Women’s Studies 32, no. 4 (2003): 455477;Chang, Li-Wen, “Economics, Evolution, and Feminism in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Utopian Fiction,” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 39, no. 4 (2010): 319348 (, accessed 8/22/2015.

45. Yeager, Mary A., “Mavericks and Mavens of Business History: Miriam Beard and Henrietta Larson,” Enterprise and Society, 2, no. 4 (2001): 687768. See also Henrietta Larson, Larson Family Archives, St. Olaf, Northfield, MN. Larson argued that “business is what society makes it.” She insisted, “Business history is not a one time discovery … it did not spring full blown from Professor Gras’ brow.” It was, she argued, “a study of process rather than description.” She defined the field as the “study of the development and operation of that institution of society, in all its ramifications, which has as its function to provide goods and services for the market … it deals with one of the basic institutions of modern times, comparable to school, church, or state.” Long before the cultural turn in business history, she complained that business history “needs deepening and broadening. More rigorous analysis to seeing the large structure of relationships, to the search for significance or meaning. … The historian is the memory, the interpreter, the conscience of the past; as such he is the teacher of the present and also something of a prophet, for he can do much to stimulate thinking and to create attitudes and feelings which have a part in molding the future. This implies that the historian at best may [detract or add to] the stature and expectations of business as a social institution.” The experiences and the careers of male MBAs at Harvard are detailed in David Callahan, Kindred Spirits: Harvard Business School’s Extraordinary Class of 1949 and How They Transformed American Business, and those of women in Gallese, Liz Roman, Women Like Us: What Is Happening to the Women of the Harvard Business School, Class of ’75—The Women Who Had the First Chance to Make It to the Top (New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1985). For Stanford MBAs, see Strober, Myra, “The MBA: Same Passport to Success for Women and Men?” in Women in the Workplace, edited by Wallace, Phyllis, 2544 (Boston: Auburn House Publishing Co., 1982);Fillmore, Mary Dingee, Women MBAs: A Foot in the Door (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1987). For information about faculty, see Scaling the Ivory Tower: Stories from Women in Business School Faculties, ed. Cyr, Dianne and Reich, Blaize Horner (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996). The classic study of the MBA is Daniel, Carter A., MBA: The First Century (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, and London: Associated University Presses, 1998), whereas the best recent study of business schools is Khurana, Rakesh, From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

46. The professionals were Edith Penrose and Joan Robinson, both of whom I had met (Edith, at HBS/BHC conference in the early 1980s, and Joan, after a lecture at Harvard University in the late 1970s). Louis Galambos was one of the first business historians to single out the professions as a promising new field of research: “Technology, Political Economy, and Professionalization: Central Themes of the Organizational Synthesis,” Business History Review 57, no. 4 (1983): 471–493, and “The Role of Professionals in the Chandler Paradigm,” Industrial and Corporate Change (2010) 19(2): 377–398 (doi:10.1093/icc/dtq009). Notable by its absence from most studies of the professions is any mention of sex and gender. For feminist critiques of the professions, see Witz, Ann, Professions and Patriarchy (New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1992);Noddings, Nel, “Feminist Critiques in the Professions,” Review of Research in Education 16 (1990): 393424 (stable URL: http.//, accessed 6/9/2015). An early forerunner, but excluding business or management, is Glazer, Penina Migdal and Slater, Miriam, Unequal Colleagues: The Entrance of Women into the Professions, 1890–1940 (New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press, 1987);Theodore, Athena, ed., The Professional Woman (Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Publishing Company, 1971).

A selective list of relevant publications about Joan M. Robinson and Edith Penrose, the two scholars discussed here, includes Rima, Ingrid H., ed., The Joan Robinson Legacy (Armonk, NY and London: M. W. Sharpe, 1991);Collected Economic Papers, 5 vols. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980), especially I, 1–2, 8–9, 12–14, 14n., 17, and n. 19; 22; II, 227–227, xiii, 66; Feiwel, George R., ed., Joan Robinson and Modern Economic Theory 2 vols., (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1989);Turner, Marjorie S., Joan Robinson and the Americans (Armonk, NY and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1989);Harcourt, G. C., “Obituary: Joan Robinson 1903–1983,” The Economic Journal 105, no. 432 (1995): 12281243;Samuelson, Paul A., “The Passing of the Guard in Economics,” Eastern Economic Journal 14, no. 4 (1988): 319329 (;Gram, Harvey and Walsh, Vivian, “Joan Robinson’s Economics in Retrospect,” Journal of Economic Literature 21(1983): 518550;Harcourt, G. C. and Kerr, Prue, Joan Robinson (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). For information on Penrose, I have relied on Pitelis, Christos, ed., The Growth of the Firm: The Legacy of Edith Penrose (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). Especially helpful are Michael Best and Humphries, Jane, “Edith Penrose: A Feminist Economist?,” Feminist Economics 9, no. 1 (2003): 4773 (doi: 10.1080/1354570022000044436,;Loasby, Brian J., “The Significance of Penrose’s Theory for the Development of Economics,” Contributions to Political Economy 18 (1999): 3145;Best, Michael and Garnsey, E., “Edith Penrose, 1914–1996,” The Economic Journal (February 1999): 109;Connell, C. Matheson, “Discerning a Mentor’s Role: The Influence of Fritz Machlup on Edith Penrose and the Theory of the Growth of the Firm,” Journal of Management History 13, no. 3 (2007): 228239 (;Phipps, Simone T. A., “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary: In a Male-Dominated Field, Women Contributed by Bringing a Touch of Spirituality to Early Management Theory and Practice,” Journal of Management History 17, no. 3 (2011): 270281 (

Edith Penrose, review of Joan Robinson, Aspects of Development and Underdevelopment (1979), The Economic Journal 90, no. 359 (1980): 623–625 (, accessed: 06/09/2015). Penrose cites Robinson’s “refreshing lack of atrocious jargon,” and admires her effort to communicate to a broader audience. She also praises Robinson for stressing the importance of social relations, legal and property rights, and the role of power of the state in economic development. She applauds her effort to take a holistic view of political economy, but criticizes her “selective” use of examples, which, she complains, “suits her points.” She concludes by contrasting her own position with that of Robinson, saying that she does not want to lose the “good” in capitalism merely to attack it.

47. Aslanbeigui, Nahid and Oakes, Guy, The Provocative Joan Robinson: The Making of a Cambridge Economist (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2009).

48. Robinson, “What are the Questions?”, in Joan Robinson, Collected Economic Papers, Vol. 5 (Boston, Mass: MIT Press, 1st ed. 1980), 5. Robinson was adamant that the discipline of economics was distinguished only by its “tool box,” which she applied as a way into understanding the problems of the real world.

49. Aslanbeigui and Oakes, 25, 4. One consequence of the attention paid to Joan Robinson has been the neglect of the scholarly contributions of her husband, Austin. Some have begun to notice. Jacobsen, Lowell, “On Robinson, Penrose, and the Resource-Based View,” European Journal of History of Economic Thought, 20, no. 1 (2013): 124147 (htt;// Curiously, few have asked what Austin and Joan talked about. Did each assist the other, in terms of publishing, theorizing efforts? What do their children remember about their relationship and interaction as scholars?

50. Aslanbeigui and Oakes, 155. Pasinetti, Luigi L., Keynes and the Cambridge Keynsians: A ‘Revolution in Economics’ to be Accomplished (Cambridge, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 97, notes that Joan became a full professor “only on Austin Robinson’s retirement in 1965.”

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Enterprise & Society
  • ISSN: 1467-2227
  • EISSN: 1467-2235
  • URL: /core/journals/enterprise-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *