‘Womanly Qualities’ and Contested Methodology: Gender and the Discipline of Economics in Late Imperial Germany



This article analyses the affinities between two debates of the 1890s in Germany: one over women's intellectual abilities and one over the production of knowledge in economics. Economists and advocates for women's higher education found common cause and language because of the rhetorical centrality of the working woman, family and motherhood to a social reform discourse that connected the university, the women's movement and the state. The historical economists conceptualised their ‘science’ in a way that allowed ‘womanly qualities’ to be identified as appropriate to its optimal practice. A limited comparison with the United States highlights the historical specificity of this construction of social-scientific knowledge.