The Women's Committee of the Economic History Society (EHS) was founded after an initial meeting in 1987. The first EHS conference session sponsored by the committee occurred the following year. This virtual issue of the Economic History Review has been compiled to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of that first public gathering. Anne Murphy, current secretary of the committee, suggested an anniversary publication of some kind. Stephen Broadberry, editor of the Review, suggested a virtual issue.1 It is heartening to see that there are many suitable articles to choose from. This limited selection necessarily excludes some fine work and some excellent historians.2 The final articles chosen have a particular resonance with the committee's history and aims. However, they are chosen from an embarrassment of riches. Early articles by or about women are included. Some of the women who have contributed to the committee are represented. There are articles (or short pieces) by Maxine Berg, Francesca Carnevali, Eleanora Carus-Wilson, Marian Dale, Elizabeth Gilboy, Katrina Honeyman, Pat Hudson, Jane Humphries, Anne Laurence, Elizabeth Levett, Eileen Power, Pam Sharpe, and Joan Thirsk (with co-authors in some cases). Maxine Berg's article about the first women economic historians, and Pam Sharpe's article about women in economic history, seemed particularly appropriate.3 Other articles were chosen to mark the author's contribution to the EHS and/or to the committee.4 The first article authored by a woman, the first article about women, and the first article about the gender gap in wages are also included.

The issue is dedicated to Katrina Honeyman (1950–2011) and to Francesca Carnevali (1964–2013). After Katrina's death, it was always my intention to dedicate a committee publication to her. Sadly, Francesca died two years later. Katrina Honeyman was a former secretary of the committee. She was particularly interested in assisting early career historians and always seemed to take a very measured and thoughtful approach to difficulties. Francesca Carnevali was a former chair of the committee.5 She was an excellent organizer and is remembered fondly by committee members for her wit and humour. Francesca suggested the creation of a small grants scheme (for the EHS) which now bears her name. The Association of Business Historians has also named a grant in her honour.

This introduction to the virtual issue combines social history, of the committee and of the EHS, with some quantitative results. There is some women's history and there is some history of female academics in our field. The selection of the articles was never intended to be exhaustive. The resulting choices are explained in greater detail below. However, I acknowledge that they were not the only choices or even the most appropriate ones. As current chair of the committee, I believe that our primary aim is to support women's careers in economic history. Without women in post, women's history and feminist perspectives on history might continue to be published. However, they would be provided for us by male scholars. Therefore, the selection of articles tends to favour women economic and social historians who will be of interest to the committee, rather than key works in women's history per se. One article was co-authored by a man, but all the rest are by women. Some have contributed to the committee and some were pioneers in the earlier decades of the society.

The original aims of the committee were ambitious.6 There were six in total. The first four related to women's careers: retaining women in academia; assisting self-financing or part-time female students; encouraging women's participation in the EHS; and providing information about research funding. The fifth aim was to ‘encourage analytical historical studies of women and the economy or women and the labour market’.7 The sixth was to provide teaching packages about women and the economy for higher education and schools. Over 25 years, changes have occurred. By the twenty-first century, there were repeated discussions about whether the committee existed to promote women's history, or women in history, or both. The present committee has the promotion of women's careers in economic and social history as its primary aim (with the other original aims as secondary ones).8 The reasoning behind this change is as follows. First, career prospects for academic economic and social historians, male or female, have become less secure over recent years. Economic history itself went through what Coleman has termed a ‘boom and slump’.9 The labour market for all academics has become more difficult, as funding cuts begin to bite. The British government's method of ranking research output has had distortionary effects.10 Second, other associations have been founded to promote women's history as their primary aim.11

The first president of the Women's Committee, Maxine Berg, wrote a Review article about the first women economic historians.12 It is included in the virtual issue. Berg argued that although great contributions were made by the early women economic historians, little is remembered now. She mentioned Lilian Knowles, Eileen Power, Eleanora Carus-Wilson, Elizabeth Levett, Vera Anstey, Ivy Pinchbeck, Mabel Buer, Julia Mann, M. G. Jones, Dorothy Marshall, Dorothy George, B. L. Hutchins, Amy Harrison, Mildred Buckley, Alice Clark, and O. J. Dunlop.13 She also listed the names of prominent female social historians.14 Articles by three of the women mentioned above are included in this virtual issue.15 They are Power, Carus-Wilson, and Levett.

Elizabeth Levett, writing as A. E. Levett, was the first female contributor to the Review. Her article, entitled ‘The financial organization of the manor’, appeared in the very first volume, published in 1927. It is included in the virtual issue.16 Eleanora Carus-Wilson was a great contributor to the Review. A memorandum written by her appeared in the third volume, published in 1929.17 She contributed several other pieces in later years. She was the fourth president of the EHS, after R. H. Tawney, T. S. Ashton, and M. M. Postan.18 She was also the editor of the EHS book series.19 Elizabeth Levett's obituary was published in the Review in 1933.20 Incidentally, it was written by another female economic historian, Eleanor Lodge. Similarly, Eleanora Carus-Wilson's obituary was written by the eminent social historian Joyce Youings.21 Levett and Carus-Wilson are the only women, as far as I could find, memorialized in the Review in this way.22 The Levett memorial fund aimed to raise £5,000. In 1934, £1,000 had already been committed.23 This was an incredible amount of money for the time.

Due to their contributions to economic history, and to the EHS, both Levett and Carus-Wilson are represented in the virtual issue. I have chosen Levett's ‘Financial organization’ article as it was the first article in the Review to have been written by a woman. The choice was more difficult for Carus-Wilson, given the number of articles she published. There are seven in total, if shorter articles are included. One mentioned that ‘this article was compiled while the writer was on war service without ready access to sources’.24 Another mentioned the ‘war conditions’ which again affected her ability to access source material.25 These two articles were the only ones written by a woman to be published in the Review from 1939 to 1945. For the virtual issue, I have decided to include Carus-Wilson's 1959 piece about fifteenth-century manors.26 It is an example of her later scholarship, but was also unaffected by ‘war conditions’. It was published at a time when women's authorship of Review articles had dropped to 8 per cent.27 It is also a beautifully written account of economic activity, particularly cloth-making, in the Cotswolds in the fifteenth century. It is full of interesting details. For example, John Osborne was fined for keeping a greyhound.28 In addition, Sir John Falstolf owned one of the estates and bought quantities of red and white cloth, made locally, for his troops.29

The Review's early editorial staff included Julia de Lacy Mann and Eileen Power. Mann assisted the original editor, Ephraim Lipson.30 Power was brought into the Review by R. H. Tawney.31 Power contributed a number of book reviews but no articles. Julia de Lacy Mann, by contrast, contributed three articles. For many years, she compiled a bibliography of books and articles about the economic history of Great Britain and Ireland. She wrote two pieces about the teaching of economic history in universities.32 Her 1956 article discussed the Wansey family of clothiers.33 It is one of the few articles in the Review where a female name appears in the title (if royalty is excluded). Mann wrote about George and Hester Wansey, not merely about George. Hester carried on the family business as a widow for 32 years. However, despite the title, Hester and her affairs were not discussed in any detail. As the source material used was written by George, it was largely about George. Mann's choice of title might therefore seem odd, unless it was chosen to make the point that Hester's contributions mattered. I leave it to the reader to decide.

Eileen Power was secretary of the EHS from the outset until her death in 1940. Barker wrote, ‘she was the real anchor. She kept the Society alive when the going became hard’.34 Fittingly, one of the society's postdoctoral fellowships is named after her. There are some interesting details in Barker's account. Power's own aunt, Miss Ruby Clegg, dealt with all the society's correspondence. Power herself went ‘cap in hand’ to her personal friends to help the society avoid bankruptcy in the early days.35 Harte believed that Power also compiled some of the bibliographies published in the Review, but did so anonymously.36 Berg wrote a biography of Power.37 In her preface, Berg mentioned that she had ‘told the story of [the] “first women economic historians” at a launching session of the Women's Committee … at the annual conference of the Society in 1988’.38 She then decided to focus on Power. It might not be unreasonable to claim that the resulting book owes its existence to that first conference session.

It would be fitting to include a research article by Power in the commemorative issue, but sadly she did not contribute one to the Review. I have therefore included one of her other pieces instead. Her review of the Curia Regis Rolls and the Close Rolls shows something of her style and wit.39 It is also a fascinating wander through other people's lives. It was a tenant's obligation at Easter to give the lord an egg for every acre held.40 The Abbot of Fountains must sound a horn to warn his neighbours if he wants to fish.41 Power spotted in one index that the heading ‘Legal’, ‘contains the satisfactory item “Rescue by force of woman condemned to be burnt for killing her husband” ’.42

Jane de Iongh's description in the Review of the 1929 International Economic History Exhibition is an interesting piece of academic history.43 De Iongh's casual use of gendered language would raise hackles today. She wrote of ‘man's continuous struggle for existence’, ‘man's activity in town and country’, and ‘those men … who, in practice and theory, by their actions and ideas, have contributed towards the economic development of Europe’.44 Women were only mentioned once throughout, and only in passing.45 Pamela Sharpe's article on women in economic history is a welcome reassessment of ‘man's activity’. 46 Sharpe surveyed the advances made in social history with regard to women's roles in society. She wondered whether economic history lagged behind in this respect. It is more difficult to quantify the number of articles which relate to women's history than it is to count the number written by women. Topics such as demographic history clearly involve women, but might not be about women per se. However, only a handful of (long) articles in the Review relate to women's history as a separate field of endeavour. The earliest such piece appears under the heading of memoranda. Marian K. Dale's 1933 short piece about London silkwomen is a rare early example of women's history, by the Review's standards.47 It is included in the virtual issue.

Although both men and women wrote about women in history in the Review, not much mention was made of women's history until decades after Dale. Women appeared, if at all, as part of a wider history of society in which the predominant players were men. No other prewar piece, whether article, note, or memorandum, appeared in the Review on the subject of women's history. The first full-length article to mention a woman by name, or women's history, is Mann's 1956 work on the Wanseys mentioned above.48 Thereafter, there are only sporadic accounts. Two comments about medieval marriage appeared in 1976, both written by women.49 By the 1980s, articles were appearing about women's work, which included the phrases ‘women's work’ or similar references to women in the title.50 Thankfully, there had been some improvement on de Iongh's phraseology which implied that it is indeed a man's world.

Sharpe referred to 12 Review articles in her 1995 article.51 She included a reference to Maxine Berg and Pat's Hudson's 1992 article about the industrial revolution, which is also included in this virtual issue.52 She also referred to early work by Elizabeth Gilboy on wages. Gilboy's short article from 1932 was listed under ‘memoranda’. It included data on women's wages, and discussed a wife's contribution to household income from her paid labour.53 Gilboy's article is included in this virtual issue partly due to her contribution to the discipline, but also as it is an early piece about the gender wage gap. In the years after Sharpe's article was published, more pieces appeared about women's history. Two popular themes were women's pay and women's investments. For example, Burnette won the T. S. Ashton prize for her article about the gender wage gap.54 Spicksley and Laurence, among others, have written about female investors.55 Incidentally, both Spicksley and Laurence held posts on the committee.56 I have included Laurence's article in the virtual issue.57

Jane Humphries and Pat Hudson are both past presidents of the EHS.58 Humphries has published several articles in the Review as well as co-editing special issues of it. Perhaps the most appropriate one to include in the virtual issue is her article, written with Sara Horrell, on women's labour force participation.59 She and Horrell began by discussing the contribution made by another woman historian, Ivy Pinchbeck, to the debate about whether families became increasingly reliant on male breadwinners during the industrial revolution.60

Francesca Carnevali published two articles in the Review. She was Reviews Editor until her death in 2013. I have decided to include her 2011 article as it broadens the geographical scope of the virtual issue. It deals with the US, rather than with Britain and Europe. Carnevali adopted a microhistory approach to consider a little-known New England trade association. The article shows Francesca's attention to detail and talents as a historian. It also has flashes of her humour. She described the annual summer outing of the association. The men wore straw boater hats and carried open Japanese paper sunshades to parade round the streets of Providence, Rhode Island. They then went for a ‘delightful sail down the bay’, followed by a clambake.61 The carefully planned outing was meant to foster ‘social capital’ in the jewellery industry.62

Every issue of the Review from 2008 (issue 2) until 2013 (issue 3) has published at least one article with female authorship, if not more. There are also a number of articles written (or co-authored) about women's history by male authors.63 Katrina Honeyman's article on women's work was co-authored with [Mr] Jordan Goodman.64 As this was her only article in the Review, it had to be included in the virtual issue which was partly dedicated to her. However, I have avoided using articles with male authors or co-authors where possible. This still leaves a number of interesting articles about women's history by female authors, as well as articles by women on a range of other subjects. Readers who seek a combination of female authorship and women's history in one place may be interested in the following articles as examples. Eileen Spring discussed the practice of ‘heiress hunting’ and women's rights of inheritance in medieval England.65 Pam Sharpe decided to focus on spinsters in her demographic history of Colyton in Devon.66 Sarah Horrell and Deborah Oxley discussed the resource allocation within late Victorian British households, especially when breadwinners were usually male.67 Lara Marks analysed the provision of medical care to pauper mothers in East London from 1870 to 1929. Unmarried mothers were only allowed to apply to voluntary hospitals for their maternity care from the late 1880s.68 Bishnupriya Gupta detailed discrimination against women from the womb onwards. She considered how the Indian marriage market operates, given the biased sex-ratio which results from ‘son preference’. The femicide of female foetuses and the greater care and resources given to male children leads to an undersupply of suitable brides. In other words, many women who should survive to adulthood do not.69

There are articles by important female economic historians, such as Phyllis Deane.70 There are prize-winning articles by women. The T. S. Ashton Prize is given to the author of the best article accepted by the Review who is early in their career in economic and social history. Burnette won in 1997, as mentioned above.71 Susan Howson won in 1973.72 Anne Murphy is the current secretary of the Women's Committee. Her 2008 article was derived from the same research project which produced her first book.73 She jointly won the society's First Monograph Prize in 2010. Joyce Burnette was the other winner. Tracy Dennison won in 2012. Her co-authored paper (with Sheilagh Ogilivie) about serfdom in Russia was published in the Review in 2007.74 There are other women who have contributed to the committee, such as Pat Thane. Along with Hudson and Berg, Thane's name appears on the original proposal for the committee.75 Therefore, the articles chosen for the virtual issue are merely a very small selection. There are many more which could appropriately represent the committee and its work.76

I have chosen an article by Joan Thirsk (1922–2013), partly as a belated memorial to her.77 When Joan Thirsk celebrated her ninetieth birthday, the EHS presented her with a commemorative volume of tributes. The committee contributed to it. Joan Thirsk was retired by the time that the committee was founded, so was not closely involved with it. She only contributed one article to the Review.78 The EHS Thirsk-Feinstein dissertation prize is partly named after her.79 A memorial meeting was held at the Senate House, University of London in January 2014. It was sponsored by a range of societies with which Joan Thirsk was associated, including the EHS.80 Melanie Harrington began her 2011 Review article with the words, ‘More than half a century ago, Thirsk transformed our knowledge of Royalist land sales with an article that appeared in the Economic History Review’.81 This is the article which appears in the virtual issue.82

Pat Hudson edited a volume of essays to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Economic History Society.83 It consists of short pieces of economic and social history written by over 100 historians. In essence, contributors were asked to write about their careers and the nature of their subject. In other words, they were asked to consider ‘what does economic and social history mean to me?’. Anne Laurence's piece, entitled ‘The child is mother to the woman’, detailed the influence of Thirsk and Power on her career.84 Thirsk also contributed a piece, as did other women mentioned in this introduction. Negley Harte provided a brief history of the society. In it, he discussed the founding of the Women's Committee:

A major initiative came after 1987. The Council meeting at the Norwich conference in that year anguished over a proposal to establish a ‘women's committee’. It was forcefully pointed out that 20 per cent of the membership at the time of the foundation [of the EHS] had been women, and the proportion of the much greater total had sunk to 10 per cent. What was the Society to do about this? Nothing, thought many … The activists turned out to achieve a majority, carrying the vote at a dramatic Council meeting, reconvened at midnight after the conference bar closed. The Women's Committee turned out not to be a divisive influence, as had been feared.85

This vignette tells us a great deal. Women were asking for representation, but evidently had to wait until after the bar had closed.86 Theodore Barker was president of the EHS at the time. His obituary, published in the Review, gives us another glimpse into our recent past and how the committee was viewed by some men.

[Barker looked] for a consensus view and [hoped] to avoid any bruising confrontations in public sessions. As President he was not invariably successful in employing these techniques, and the notable innovation of setting up the Women's Committee was the result of some subtle manoeuvres and unusual procedures which he did not fully comprehend, but its achievements were so striking that he did not hesitate to claim retrospective paternity.87

One woman who remembers this era asked me whether the men are more welcoming these days.88 Thankfully they are, but in some ways they have to be. In some EHS council and executive meetings, women make up the majority of attendees. In April 2013, the treasurer, three chairs of committees (out of six), and nine out of 11 council members were female.89 The committee always nominates a candidate for any free council seat and encourages women to join committees and take up responsibilities within the EHS.90

In the 1990s, the Women's Committee planned a special edited volume under the provisional title, Women in twentieth century Britain: economic, social and cultural change.91 It appeared in 2001 and was edited by Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska.92 Aside from the introduction, there were 20 chapters covering a variety of topics from women's history; the life course; work (paid and unpaid); culture, consumption, and transgression; and the state and citizenship. There is no mention anywhere in the book of its connection to the EHS and to the committee.93

It is important to try to monitor whether women are being represented, and are being heard. Wrigley's history of the Review over 50 years (up to 1997) gave the lists of editors and assistant editors.94 Female names are conspicuous by their absence, although Penelope Corfield was assistant editor from 1975 until 1979. Wrigley provided data about female authorship. He counted all articles, short articles, revisions, and essays in bibliography and criticism in his calculations. He assigned appropriate weightings to co-authored articles. With some of the earlier authors, it was not easy to distinguish their gender. However, he doubted that this would make much of a difference to the overall results.95 A modified version of his table is reproduced here (table 1).

Table 1. Female authorship of items in the Review, taken from Wrigley
 % of authors who are female
  1. Note: The data refer to articles, short articles, revisions, and essays in bibliography and criticism published in the Review.

Source:Wrigley, ‘Review’, p. 18, tab. 11.

I have attempted to update Wrigley's data. The entire set of Reviews from 1927 until January 2014 has been surveyed. In a departure from Wrigley's methodology, full academic articles have been counted separately from shorter research pieces. (Joint authorship has been dealt with in the Wrigley manner by assigning weights.) The data for full articles exclude many of the pieces contributed by women and also shorter articles labelled as notes or memoranda. Early volumes of the Review labelled some pieces as memoranda or short articles and they have been counted separately. The practice of separating articles from ‘shorter articles’, notes, or memoranda appears to have stopped in the early 1970s. Wrigley's caveats about assigning gender to authors based on names still apply. Early authors seem to have preferred to use their initials, which complicates matters. This is particularly a problem with common surnames such as Jones. Full names can also be misleading. Men with ambiguous first names, such as Lynn or Marian, have contributed to the Review. There is an article by Deirdre McCloskey under her birth name of Donald. However, only a few mystery names remain in the dataset. Even if there are a few incidences of mislabelling, the data show general trends.

The data in table 2 show similar results to Wrigley's in table 1. The timeframe is a longer one than Wrigley's. From an initially positive start of 14 per cent, female authorship of longer articles declined in the postwar period to a low of 7 per cent in the 1970s. It only picked up again in the 1980s, before rising to its highest levels in the 2000s. If the data for the entire twenty-first century so far are aggregated, women account for 21 per cent of the authorship of articles. It may surprise some readers to learn that women made their mark on the Review in its early days (as Berg suggested). It may be less surprising to find that they were not well represented in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

Table 2. Female authorship of items in the Review
 Long articles written by women (%)aShorter items written by women (%)b
  1. Notes:a Excludes shorter research articles, notes, memoranda, and essays in criticism and bibliography.

  2. b Notes, memoranda, and shorter research articles only. Only surveyed up until 1959.

Source:Economic History Review.

It seems to have been common practice in the early decades of the Review to have shorter pieces under a variety of different headings. They might be named as short articles, notes, or memoranda. The volumes from 1927 to 1959 have been studied, to count all the short research articles which are similar to the main articles in methodology but shorter in length. Essays and general surveys have been excluded. The percentage of female authors has been calculated and the results are shown in table 2. A similar pattern emerges to that shown for the longer articles. Women made a greater contribution to published shorter articles in the prewar years than afterwards. In the years 1927 to 1939, the percentage of female-authored short articles was 20 per cent, while for longer articles it was 14 per cent. The reasons for this gap are not clear. It may reflect the preferences of female authors, or of the editorial board itself.

Other comparison measures can be made. Whaples surveyed the Journal of Economic History (JEH) up until 1991.96 In the late 1960s and early 1970s, cliometrics increased in importance. Whaples believed that this was the reason why women contributed only 5 per cent of the total number of pages in the JEH. He therefore implied that women were less able (or less willing) to carry out econometric techniques, but provided no evidence for this. He categorized the 1970s as a ‘boom period’ for women. In the 1980s, they contributed around 15 per cent of the JEH's content. 97 Whaples reviewed the journal again 10 years later.98 His data regarding female authorship are presented in table 3. Whaples's methodology is slightly different to Wrigley's and to mine, but in general the data seem to follow similar trends.

Table 3. Female authorship in the Journal of Economic History
 Proportion of pages written by women (%)
Source:Whaples, ‘Supply’, p. 525, tab. 2.

Margo, in his history of the American Economic Review, does not discuss the race or gender of authors.99 Goldie, in his analysis of the Historical Journal (HJ), does discuss gender, both as a subject area and in relation to authorship of papers. He compared the HJ to Wrigley's analysis of the Review. The proportion of female contributors to the HJ was twice that of the Review.100 Goldie noted that the HJ's editorial policy is to ‘use the review section as an opportunity to redress some of the imbalances of the research section, both as to subject matter and as to gender of authors’.101 Subacchi's analysis of attendance at the Eleventh International Economic History Congress only provided one statistic about the gender of attendees. Subacchi calculated that there was a male to female ratio of 4:1.102 She did, however, analyse the content of the papers in great detail. She found that ‘sex ratios and gender issues’ were among the seven most common topics chosen by paper-givers.103

The Royal Economic Society (RES) Women's Committee has carried out a number of surveys of gender balance among academic economists.104 Some of the findings from the 2012 survey are summarized below.105 In 1996, women made up 17.5 per cent of the workforce. This figure had risen to more than 23 per cent in 2012.106 Blanco et al. caution that it was difficult for them to survey economists who worked outside ‘conventional economics’ or in interdisciplinary settings.107 The survey sample comprised 1,686 individuals, of whom 33 were listed as economic historians. Of this sample, 9 were women and 24 were men.108 Blanco et al. provided data about the rank of these economic historians, but not by gender.109 A separate survey from 2011 listed female professors in the UK with their research areas.110 Only four economic historians were listed.111 The surveys were constructed primarily to focus on academic economics departments. Therefore, for all their merits, the surveys cannot be used to tell us much about the careers of academic economic and social historians. The most recent data for this, admittedly specialized, topic come from a Women's Committee census from 2007.112 (The committee had created a directory of ‘women in economic and social history’ in 1994, but that is now out of date.)113

The Women's Committee census was constructed by examining British university websites. Researchers with interests in economic history were identified by the research profile on their websites. The results from the census are provided in table 4. Most researchers (around 56 per cent) were in history departments and 30 per cent were in economics departments.114 Women made up 24 per cent of the total. The large number of full professors (34 per cent) is evidence of the boom and bust mentioned by Coleman above.115 Many of these individuals were first employed in the glory days of the Cliometric Revolution, but after that fewer posts seem to have been made available. The location and approximate rank of researchers was also listed. There are some peculiarities within the British system which makes ranks such as ‘fellow’ ambiguous. The census also recorded the location and type of university where a researcher worked. A number of UK institutions had a place in the Times Higher Education Supplement's 2006 list of the top 200 universities in the world.116 The Golden Triangle consists of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and several institutions in London. They are the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the King's College London (KCL), and University College London (UCL) (which are all part of the University of London) and the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (also known as Imperial College London).

Table 4. UK-based academics with research interests in economic history (2007)
  1. Notes: Emeritus staff are excluded. Total no. of individuals is 612. Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

  2. a

    THES 2006 refers to the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings of universities for 2006

  3. b

    Post 92 institutions received university status after 1992

  4. c

    Golden Triangle universities are Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, KCL, UCL, and Imperial College London

  5. d

    Early career ranks include teaching and research fellows and research assistants.

Sources:Paul, ‘Census’; Times Higher Education, ‘World university rankings’.
Member of EHS44
Female 24
Based in:  
 History or related department56
 Economics or related department29
 Unrelated department9
 Specialist economic history centre5
 Institution listed in THES 2006 lista63
 Post 92 institutionb17
 England (excluding London)68
 Northern Ireland2
 Golden Trianglec32
 Not known17
 Early careerd6
 Senior lecturer or reader18
 Professor (chair) or equivalent34

The census dataset was restricted to individuals currently employed (but not emeritus) whose rank was known. It was then analysed using logistic regression models.117 Table 5 shows the results for a logistic regression where the dependent variable is a dummy variable for full professorial rank.118 A male researcher is twice as likely to reach the rank of full professor as a female researcher is, ceteris paribus.119 Table 6 shows the results of a logistic regression with early career rank as the dependent variable. A female researcher is twice as likely as a male counterpart to be at an early career rank, ceteris paribus.120 The first result may be partly due to a cohort effect as a large number of staff (mostly male) head to retirement. However, that does not mean that a cohort effect explains everything. Women's career paths may be adversely affected by a range of issues, including discrimination. A 1970s cohort effect cannot explain why women are twice as likely as men to be at the lowest rank in 2007.

Table 5. Logistic regression results for professorial rank, UK-based researchers in economic history, 2007
 Log. (relative odds)Odds ratio
Coefficient (ß)Std. error of ßOdds ratio (OR) [exp(ß)]Std. error for OR
  1. Notes:a Golden Triangle universities are Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, KCL, UCL, and Imperial College London. * Statistically significant at the 5% level. ** Statistically significant at the 1% level.

Source:Paul, ‘Census’.
Golden Trianglea−0.470*0.2150.625*0.134
Economics dept.−0.0610.1930.9400.181
No. of cases 612  
Likelihood ratio chi-square (df)13.0(3)**  
Pseudo R2 0.02  
Table 6. Logistic regression results for early career rank, UK-based researchers in economic history, 2007
 Log. (relative odds)Odds ratio
Coefficient (ß)Std. error of ßOdds ratio (OR) [exp(ß)]Std. error for OR
  1. Notes: As for tab. 5.

Source:Paul, ‘Census’.
Golden Trianglea0.888*0.3742.431*0.909
Economics dept.0.6200.3661.8580.680
No. of cases 612  
Likelihood ratio chi-square (df)10.99(3)*  
Pseudo R2 0.04  

The census data can be compared with the EHS membership list from 2007.121 According to the EHS data, 20 per cent of EHS members were female. This brought the percentage of women EHS members back to same levels as in the earliest days of the society (according to Harte).122 Hopefully, the Women's Committee has played a part in this recovery. The 2013 membership lists show that just over 20 per cent of the EHS membership is female.123 Encouragingly, for the student membership that figure jumps to around 30 per cent.124 Overall, the picture is mixed. The increases in female membership of the EHS and of women's contributions to the Review are good signs. The relative scarcity of women at the top ranks of the profession is not. There is much work for the committee still to do.

  1. 1

    I am grateful to several people for their help: first, to Anne Murphy and Stephen Broadberry for their suggestions. I am also grateful to the publishers, Wiley Blackwell, and especially to Isabel Barratt and Rachel Abbott of Wiley for their help. Members of the Women's Committee were able to provide missing details about the committee's history. Maureen Galbraith provided the EHS membership data. Any remaining mistakes are my own.

  2. 2

    Wiley advised that 10 to 12 articles was the ideal number for a virtual issue.

  3. 3

    Berg, ‘First Women’; Sharpe, ‘Continuity’.

  4. 4

    Eleanora Carus-Wilson, Pat Hudson, and Jane Humphries were the only female presidents of the EHS. Chairs of the Women's Committee (in order) were: Maxine Berg, Anne Digby, Helen Meller, Margaret Walsh, Pam Sharpe, Jane Humphries, Anne Laurence, Francesca Carnevali, and Helen Paul.

  5. 5

    Francesca was chair immediately before me. She had found organizers of the annual workshop for not merely one, but three, years in advance. Similarly, two future organizers of the conference sessions had been found. This gave me a lot of breathing room when I first took over in 2011, for which I am very grateful to her.

  6. 6
  7. 7


  8. 8

    To achieve its goals, the committee disseminates information and also holds events. Annual workshops and conference sessions were held from 1989 onwards. A Jiscmail mailing list was started in 2006. A Facebook page was started in 2011, followed by a Twitter account (@WComEHS) in 2013. Annual networking events began in 2011 and annual training days in 2012. As of 2014, the EHS does not have its own mailing list, Facebook page, or Twitter account. Therefore, men are allowed to join the committee's communication list. Men make up 8% of the committee's Facebook page users and 11.5% of subscribers to the mailing list.

  9. 9

    Coleman, ‘History’, p. 637.

  10. 10

    The Research Excellence Framework (REF) replaces the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). They are attempts by the government to judge the research outputs of academic departments. A vast body of literature now details the unintended consequences, costs, and distortionary effects of these schemes. See, for example, Silverman, ‘Bibliometrics’; Marchbank, ‘Ding, dong’, p. 195, about women's studies and the RAE; Kapeller, ‘Citation metrics’, about heterodox approaches to economics and bibliometrics; and Ferber and Brun, ‘Gender gap’, about gendered approaches to citations.

  11. 11

    Examples of women's history organizations with dates of founding in parentheses: Women's History Association of Ireland (1989), Women's History Network (1991), and Scottish Women's History Network (1995) which became Women's History Scotland (1998).

  12. 12

    Berg, ‘First women’.

  13. 13

    Ibid., pp. 308–9.

  14. 14

    The EHS promotes economic and social history, which is why social historians were included in an article about economic historians.

  15. 15

    Sadly, there are no Review articles by Lilian Knowles as she died in 1926. She was one of the earliest, if not the earliest, woman to hold a senior post in economic history. W. J. Ashley wrote in 1915 that there was ‘only one Professor of Economic History in the U.K. […] and two readers’ (Barker, ‘Beginnings’, p. 5). One of the readers mentioned was Lilian Knowles.

  16. 16

    Levett, ‘Financial organization’.

  17. 17

    Carus-Wilson, ‘Aulnage accounts’.

  18. 18

    Harte, ‘Economic History Society’, p. 7.

  19. 19

    Ibid., p. 8.

  20. 20

    Lodge, ‘Elizabeth Levett’.

  21. 21

    Youings, ‘Obituary’.

  22. 22

    Several male historians were granted that honour—at least 11.

  23. 23

    Anon., ‘Elizabeth Levett’, p. 460.

  24. 24

    Carus-Wilson, ‘English cloth industry’, p. 32.

  25. 25

    Carus-Wilson, ‘Industrial revolution’, p. 39.

  26. 26

    Carus-Wilson, ‘Evidence’.

  27. 27

    See tab. 2.

  28. 28

    Carus-Wilson, ‘Evidence’, p. 203.

  29. 29

    Ibid., p. 198.

  30. 30

    Barker, ‘Beginnings’, pp. 9–10.

  31. 31

    Ibid., p. 12.

  32. 32

    Mann, ‘Teaching’; idem, ‘Teaching: part I. Continental’.

  33. 33

    Mann, ‘Wiltshire family’.

  34. 34

    Barker, ‘Beginnings’, p. 17.

  35. 35

    Ibid., pp. 17–18.

  36. 36

    Harte, ‘Trends’, p. 21.

  37. 37

    Berg, Eileen Power.

  38. 38

    Ibid., p. xiii.

  39. 39

    Power, ‘Curia Regis Rolls’.

  40. 40

    Ibid., p. 155.

  41. 41

    Ibid., p. 156.

  42. 42

    Ibid., p. 158.

  43. 43

    De Iongh, ‘Exhibition’.

  44. 44

    Ibid., p. 314.

  45. 45

    Ibid., p. 315.

  46. 46

    Sharpe, ‘Continuity’.

  47. 47

    Dale, ‘Silkwomen’.

  48. 48

    Mann, ‘Wiltshire family’.

  49. 49

    Searle, ‘Freedom’; Scammell, ‘Wife-rents’.

  50. 50

    See, for example, Snell, ‘Agricultural seasonal unemployment’; Franklin, ‘Peasant widows’.

  51. 51

    Sharpe, ‘Continuity’, pp. 364–9.

  52. 52

    Berg and Hudson, ‘Industrial revolution’. Both Berg and Hudson were founding members of the committee. Berg was the first chair. Hudson was the second female president of the EHS.

  53. 53

    Gilboy, ‘Labour’.

  54. 54

    Burnette, ‘Investigation’.

  55. 55

    Spicksley, ‘Usury’; Laurence, ‘Hoare's Bank’.

  56. 56

    Judith Spicksley was secretary when Anne Laurence was chair.

  57. 57

    Most of the former chairs of the committee are represented in the virtual issue. Helen Meller and Margaret Walsh both contributed a large number of book reviews to the Review, but no articles. Anne Digby wrote three articles published in the Review. For example, Digby, ‘Asylum’. However, there is not space to include them.

  58. 58

    The only female president of the twentieth century was Carus-Wilson (from 1966 to 1969). Harte, ‘Economic History Society’, p. 11.

  59. 59

    Horrell and Humphries, ‘Women's labour force participation’.

  60. 60

    Ibid., p. 89. Pinchbeck was one of the names listed by Berg above. Berg, ‘First women’, pp. 308–9.

  61. 61

    Carnevali, ‘Social capital’, p. 905.

  62. 62

    Men + parasols + clambake in the name of jewellery = Francesca's dry sense of humour.

  63. 63

    See, for example, Nicholas and Oxley, ‘Living standards’; Gazeley, ‘Women's pay’; Green and Owens, ‘Gentlewomanly capitalism?’.

  64. 64

    Honeyman and Goodman, ‘Women's work’.

  65. 65

    Spring, ‘Comment’.

  66. 66

    Sharpe, ‘Literally spinsters’.

  67. 67

    Horrell and Oxley, ‘Crust or crumb?’.

  68. 68

    Marks, ‘Medical care’, p. 518.

  69. 69

    Gupta, ‘Son preference’. This article appears in another virtual issue of the Review.

  70. 70

    See, for example, Deane, ‘First half’.

  71. 71

    Burnette, ‘Investigation’.

  72. 72

    Howson, ‘Origins’.

  73. 73

    Murphy, ‘Trading options’; eadem, ‘Origins’.

  74. 74

    Dennison and Ogilvie, ‘Serfdom’.

  75. 75

    Women's Committee of the Economic History Society, ‘Original aims’. The only research article by Thane in the Review is ‘Craft unions’. It is a comment rather than a full article. Thane was also part of the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) project to video interviews with prominent historians. Phyllis Deane, Joan Thirsk, and Rosalind Mitchison were among those interviewed. Adelson and Smith, ‘Videotaped interviews’, p. 267.

  76. 76

    See, for example, Verdon, ‘Rural labour market’,

  77. 77

    Phyllis Deane (1918–2012) was another possible choice. Her two Review articles concerned contemporary estimates of national income in the nineteenth century. See Deane, ‘First half’; eadem, ‘Second half’. This was a difficult choice, made due to lack of space. (I am biased towards the early modern period.)

  78. 78

    The Agricultural History Review and Past & Present both created memorial virtual issues. British Agricultural History Society, ‘Joan Thirsk’; Past & Present, ‘Joan Thirsk’.

  79. 79

    The prize honours Joan Thirsk and Charles Feinstein.

  80. 80
  81. 81

    Harrington, ‘Earl of Derby’, p. 1195.

  82. 82

    Thirsk, ‘Royalist land’.

  83. 83

    Hudson, ed., Living economic and social history.

  84. 84

    Laurence, ‘Child’.

  85. 85

    Harte, ‘Economic History Society’, pp. 8–9.

  86. 86

    I presume that it was the men who ‘forcefully’ demanded to go to the bar and drink until it closed. I may be wrong. Also note that the interlude would have allowed the ‘no’ campaign to recruit a few more voters.

  87. 87

    Thompson, ‘Theo Barker’, p. v (emphasis added). Note that this quotation appeared in the first paragraph of an obituary published in 2002, referring to a meeting held in 1987. In Barker's later career, Thompson tells us that ‘there was scarcely an area of the new varieties of social history, apart from women's history, with which he was not closely associated’ (emphasis added); ibid., p. vii.

  88. 88

    As Negley Harte himself once wrote, ‘no names, no pack drill’.

  89. 89

    Economic History Society, ‘Council’.

  90. 90

    The chair of the committee is always invited to attend EHS Council and Executive meetings, ex officio.

  91. 91

    London School of Economics (hereafter LSE), Economic History Society, Z/35, Women's Committee.

  92. 92
  93. 93

    There may be other achievements of the committee which have gone unrecorded in this introduction. Mea culpa. I hope that the forceful activists will not close the bar in protest.

  94. 94

    Wrigley, ‘Review’, pp. 2–3.

  95. 95

    Ibid., pp. 18–19.

  96. 96

    Whaples, ‘Quantitative history’.

  97. 97

    Ibid., p. 297.

  98. 98

    Whaples, ‘Supply’.

  99. 99

    Margo, ‘Economic history’.

  100. 100

    Goldie, ‘Fifty years’, p. 824.

  101. 101

    Ibid., p. 826.

  102. 102

    Subacchi, ‘Meta-economic history’, p. 604.

  103. 103

    Ibid., p. 605.

  104. 104

    The RES Women's Committee was founded in 1996. Its founding membership consisted of five women, but also three men; Blanco, Mitka, Mumford, and Roman, Gender balance, p. 21.

  105. 105


  106. 106

    Ibid., p. 2.

  107. 107

    Ibid., p. 3. Many economic historians work outside economics departments. See tab. 4.

  108. 108

    Ibid., p. 13, tab. 4.

  109. 109

    Ibid., p. 35, tab. A3.

  110. 110
  111. 111

    Sue Bowden, Jane Humphries, Sheilagh Ogilvie, and Jane Ridley; ibid., p. 1.

  112. 112

    Paul, ‘Census’. A copy of the report can be accessed on the Women's Committee page of the Economic History Society website (

  113. 113

    The committee sold copies of the directory and advertised it in the Review; Women's Committee of the Economic History Society, ‘Women’.

  114. 114

    Paul, ‘Census’, p. 7.

  115. 115

    Coleman, ‘History’, p. 637.

  116. 116

    Times Higher Education, ‘World university rankings’.

  117. 117

    If the dependent variable is not continuous, then ordinary least squares cannot be used.

  118. 118

    To interpret the coefficient of, say, (female –0.747) take the exponential of –0.747 to find the odds ratio (which is 0.474). The gender dummy in this case is 1 for female and 0 for male. If the coding is reversed, then 0 is for female and 1 for male. The odds ratio becomes 1 divided by 0.474 (that is, 2.1). Therefore, a male researcher is 2.1 times more likely to reach the rank of full professor than a female researcher is, ceteris paribus.

  119. 119

    The coefficient is statistically significant at the 1% level. The model is statistically significant at the 1% level.

  120. 120

    The coefficient is statistically significant at the 5% level. The model is statistically significant at the 5% level.

  121. 121

    EHS membership (raw) data were kindly provided by Mrs Maureen Galbraith, administrator of the EHS. Any calculation errors are my own.

  122. 122

    Harte, ‘Economic History Society’, pp. 8–9.

  123. 123

    The EHS membership list for 2013 was again provided by Maureen Galbraith. Out of 1,354 names, gender could be assigned in 1,215 instances (that is, 10% were unclassified). Of the known individuals, just under 22% were female. If all the unknown individuals are male, the figure drops to 19.5%. If all the unknown names are female (which is less likely), then the figure rises to 29.7%. The range is therefore between 20 and 30% female, with a lower figure being more likely.

  124. 124

    There are 297 student members, only 14 of whom could not be classified by gender. Therefore, 64% of the total were male and 31% female (5% unknown). Of the known individuals, 67.5% were male and 32.5% female. This is much more robust set of calculations than for the whole membership, as only 5% of names were unclassified.

Footnote references

  1. Top of page
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