My name is Diane Perrons. I am Professor Emerita in Feminist Political Economy having spent the last 24 years working at LSE and the preceding 21 at the City of London Polytechnic. I became a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2003 for my role in editing academic journals and for bringing gender issues into economic geography and regional studies. I was promoted to a Chair at LSE in 2007 for work on Globalisation, Gender and Inequality. My current project focuses on the recent economic crisis and sustainable and equitable alternatives to austerity.
Tell us about your background?
I was born and brought up in Nottingham and am very much a product of a hard working mum, Keynesian economic policies and the UK post-war welfare state: receiving free orange juice; free milk; free school meals; funding for a school uniform and a student grant to go to Bristol University where I studied Geography with Economics. When contrasted with today’s young people I am very conscious of my luck in being born in the pre-Thatcher era when there was a supportive welfare state (albeit partly dependent on a colonial dividend) and a sense of social solidarity that is largely absent in contemporary times.
My sixth form years coincided with the rise of the European student movement and I recall trying to sell left-wing newspapers outside the Raleigh bicycle factory and subsequently marching against Enoch Powell. In 1967 with the late Amajit Johal I published an article in the school magazine which shared the aims of the student movement but also reflected a form of politics aimed at building consensus for what are in effect revolutionary goals of economic and gender justice that has remained with me ever since.
Tell us about your career and time at LSE?
I have numerous happy moments at LSE from working with a wonderful set of colleagues and very diverse students. It is especially rewarding to hear from students long after they have graduated about how they have translated some of the academic ideas into action in their various fields.
I was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Geography at LSE in 1994 and subsequently moved to the Department of Gender Studies to serve as Director 2004-2008 and again 2013-2016. It was exciting to see the Department grow over this period, increasing the faculty from 2.5 to around 15 and teaching students from all over LSE on courses ranging from ‘Screening the Present’ to my personal favourite, ‘Feminist Economics and Policy.’ I also worked for the newly established International Inequalities Institute, running their MSc Programme.
Perhaps among the most memorable moments are the day I acted as one of the security guards for Nelson Mandela’s public lecture at LSE – the only way I could get in. He really highlighted the value of education which was a very humbling experience, making me realise how privileged we all are to be able to spend our time reading, writing and teaching.
A second lasting memory was in the Q&A after my lecture on Gender Inequality and Power, which was linked to the LSE Commission on the same theme. A young women asked if I was optimistic about the future – I hesitated. But then looking round at all the young people in the audience couldn’t help but say “Yes” – despite the long history of progress and setbacks, and despite the fact that at the present rate of change it will take several generations before anything approximating gender equality will be achieved. Paraphrasing Karl Marx, people make history but not in circumstances of their own choosing.
Outside LSE I have been fortunate to engage with scholars and students in many different countries enabling me to appreciate the value of comparative research, and gained practical knowledge about the many more equitable ways of organising economic and social systems. I have also been an active member of the UK’s Women’s Budget Group, working with other members to highlight the economic value of care related work and show why austerity policies are unnecessary.
After 45 years of teaching I decided it was time to give students a rest. As a Professor Emerita I look forward to doing more research and writing as well as reading all the books I always meant to and spending more time with my children and grandchildren.
A colleague said:
Diane Perrons is a pioneering feminist economist working on globalisation, paid work, care and social reproduction; economic transformation, inequality and changing global relations. Her book (2004) Globalisation and social change: People and places in a divided world brought the study of gendered effects of globalisation to the centre stage of academic study and policy analysis. Together with Ania Plomien she was responsible for setting up the first taught course on 'feminist economics' in the UK.
Department of Gender Studies
Finance, austerity and inequality: towards gender equitable alternatives: keynote lecture to the TASC and FEPS The Challenge of Inequality to Recovery and Wellbeing in Dublin