Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution is a non-fiction look at women’s relationships to men and the economy. She ultimately makes the argument that women need to revolutionize how they are seen and understood. In many ways it was the Lean In (by Sheryl Sandberg) of its time. She argues that the institutions of marriage, mothering, and work all systematically place women below men. As such, the work done by women is dictated by men. She provides this analysis by examining historical examples and provides multiple case studies. Her analysis is rooted in social darwinism. She argues that in order to survive in this society women must change their “cultural identities.” She examines how women have been forced to become dependent on men. Women work at home as a form of debt to their husbands. As such, men are provided a social freedom that women have never had access to. She believes that women have been boxed in and limited in their creative potential because of this. Through women’s roles as nurturers, they are tasked with providing, through birth, a labor force for men. Women are then expected to educate this growing labor force. Gilman considers all the technological advances that have been made and argues that the need for women to stay at home and cook is long gone. It has now become social custom and is not necessity.