Michele Pujol's "Into the Margin"

Essay by moralesdadUniversity, Master'sA+, September 2006

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Michele Pujol in her paper, "Into the Margin", seeks to address and dispel five unstated assumptions in neoclassical economics regarding the role of women in the labor market. These five assumptions which she lists in her article are:

1. All women are married, or if not yet, they will be. Similarly, all women have or will have children.

2. All women are (and ought to be) economically dependent on a male relative: father or husband.

3. Women are (and ought to be) housewives, their reproductive capacities specializes them for that function.

4. Women are unproductive (whether absolutely or relative to men is not always clear) in the industrial workforce.

5. Women are irrational, they are unfit as economic agents, they cannot be trusted to make the right decisions.

Ms. Pujol states that women are assigned these characteristics and, in neoclassical economics, have no way to gain equal opportunity or pay in the workforce thus, oppressing all women.

In addressing the first two unstated assumptions Ms. Pujol points out that the neoclassical assumption that all women are to be mothers either supported by a husband or a father she states that "this characterization leads economists to see women as non-autonomous agents." This characterization leads us to assume that women have no place in the workforce and, without being dependent on men, have no place in society.

One of the micro assumptions she wishes to dispel in her article is that of the decision of women to work outside the home. In neoclassical economics this decision is made at the household level not as an independent decision made by the women. This assumption implies that men make the decision as to whether or not the women will work outside the home.

She dispels this assumption with simple logic. Women choose to work...