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Feminist economics

Feminist economics is not a single study but more a set of observations by feminist ethicists, economists, political scientists and systems scientists, that women's traditional work (e.g. child-raising, caring for sick elders) and occupations (e.g. nursing, teaching) are systematically undervalued with respect to that of men. It is often considered part of Green economics since Greens list feminism as an explicit goal of their political measures, often seeking higher valuations for such work. It is also often considered part of welfare economics or labour economics, since it emphasizes child welfare, and the value of labour in itself, as opposed to production for a marketplace, the focus of classical economy.

Measures such as employment equity were implemented in developed nations in the 1970s to 1990s, but these were not entirely successful in removing wage gaps even in nations with strong equity traditions. Systemic study of the ways that women's work is undervalued, undertaken by Marilyn Waring and others in the 1980s and 1990s, began to justify different means of measurement of value - some of which were influential in the theory of social capital and individual capital, which emerged in the late 1990s and ultimately merged with ecological economics to become modern human development theory.

Jane Jacobs' thesis of the "Guardian Ethic" and its contrast to the "Trader Ethic" was also influential in explaining in ethical terms why a trading culture would systematically undervalue guardianship activity, including the child-protecting, nurturing, and healing tasks that were traditionally assigned to women. This led to the more general idea of systems as expressing either tolerances or preferences, and never being very good at both.

Critics of the theses of Waring, Jacobs, and other feminists who explore the role of women in the economy, argue that protective activities, e.g. military and police and government, are just as much male as female roles, more so in times of chaos, and that these proceeding theories are sexist.