EH431      Half Unit
Women in Economic History

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Anne Ruderman


This course is available on the MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Financial History, MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus) and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is expected to be high.  This may mean that you are unable to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course will explore the role of women in economic history, as economic actors, labor market participants and early founders of the discipline. As such, it will take a broad look at the economic activity of women, as well as the structures and institutions that have governed socioeconomic aspects of women's lives, from employment to marriage to savings and retirement. This course will consider the economic history of women from the Renaissance to the recent past, looking at differences and similarities between Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.  It will look at themes such as women and work, invisible labor, women as productive and reproductive entities under slavery, female slave owners, medicine and women, the gendering of professions, and property rights. It will examine, for example, the dowry bond market in Renaissance Florence, female land-ownership in pre-colonial Gambia and the so-called "mental load" that professional women face in household management in the twenty-first century United States.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course will be taught over 10 two-hour seminars in the Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 annotated bibiliography, 1 outline and 1 analysis of sources in the Lent Term.

Indicative reading

  • Hughes, Diane Owen. (1978) “From Brideprice to Dowry in Mediterranean Europe.” Journal of Family History 3, no. 3: 262-96
  • Ogilvie, Sheilagh. (2004). “How Does Social Capital Affect Women? Guilds and Communities in Early Modern Germany,” American Historical Review, 109.2: 325-359
  • Jones-Rogers, Stephanie (2019). They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, New Haven: Yale University Press
  • Candido, Mariana P., and Eugénia Rodrigues (2015). “African Women's Access and Rights to Property in the Portuguese Empire.” African Economic History 43: 1–18.
  • Dublin, Thomas, (1994). Transforming Women’s Work: New England Lives in the Industrial Revolution, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Brinton, Mary (1993). Women and the Economic Miracle: Gender and Work in Postwar Japan, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Khan, B. Zorina (1996) “Married Women’s Property Laws and Female Commercial Activity:  Evidence from United States Patent Records, 1790-1895,” Journal of Economic History, 56, no. 2: 356-88.
  • Daminger, Allison (2019) "The Cognitive Dimension of Household Labor," American Sociological Review 84, no.4: 609-633.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST Week 1.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication