Stimulating Stuff: Books from Blackwell’s at Power Shift 2014 Signing

The original Blackwell’s, on the Broad Street in Oxford, looks tiny and ancient, but is massive and modern inside. Shops for music and art books are across the road.

I love book signings.  They seem so literary and civilized.  So, one of my favorite parts of Power Shift is the book-signing that accompanies lunch on the second day. Blackwell’s brings the books, the authors sign, and we all enjoy our coffee.

As always, we will feature books our speakers have authored.  However, I have also included an array of other books that I think may be useful to people thinking about women and money.  I’d like to highlight a few here, as a way of introducing them to the Power Shift audience, but also because I think other readers may enjoy some of them.

Julie Nelson, a professor at University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a leader in feminist economics, will speak at Power Shift.

I have pulled two books from the reading list for my doctoral class, “The Women’s Economy.”  Both of these are favorites among students for the way the arguments challenge them to think differently about women and economics.  Feminist Economics Today is a later edition of the first book of feminist economics, Beyond Economic Man.  Julie Nelson, who will speak at Power Shift, was one of the lead editors, along with Marianne Ferber.  Though there were individual feminist economists before this book appeared, it was this publication that really gathered together the field back in the 1990s and kicked off a whole new discipline.  The essays challenge core concepts of economic thought in a way that feels like fresh air blowing through your brain. (The University of Chicago Press, which published the original Beyond Economic Man, says:  “Beyond Economic Man raises questions about the discipline not because economics is too objective but because it is not objective enough.”)

Nancy Folbre’s history of economic thought from a gender perspective has been a formative text for me and for my students.

A second book is Greed, Lust, and Gender by Nancy Folbre.  This book traces the history of economic thought from a gender perspective, illustrating with the attitudes, statutes, and events of each famous economist’s era, thus showing the interaction between the real lives of women (especially their reproductive lives) and the evolution of a way of thinking about economics that ultimately excluded females.  It is a breathtaking book, though in many ways deeply disturbing. Reading it has been a formative experience for me as well as my students.

Jane Humphries is currently head of the history department at Oxford.

Jane Humphries, like Julie Nelson, has been a leading light in feminist economics.  She also will appear at Power Shift (she is head of the history department at Oxford).  Humphries is at the center of discussion of how engage Amartya Sen’s principles with the project of women’s empowerment.  Her book with Bina Agarwal and Ingrid Robeyns is one of the core texts in this very important discourse. We are thrilled she will be on hand to sign it.

Katherine Collins, a leader in the emerging field of gender lens investing, has just recently published her book, The Nature of Investing.  In this book, she argues for a more organic, less mechanized approach to investing than is currently in practice.  She particularly emphasizes attention to impact and decries the solipsistic trend in financial innovation, in which new investment forms turn in on themselves, rather than outward to the real world.  There is a really great TedX video of her explaining her philosophy.  You can watch below.

In addition to these wonderful books, I have selected other texts on finance and women, from a variety of perspectives.  For instance, Bina Agarwal’s A Field of One’s Own, is a foundational work on women’s land rights–which is key if women are ever to collateralize loans, a failure for which they are regularly chastized by entrepreneurship analysts (who clearly need some gender education).  Wall Street Women by Melissa Fisher tells the story of the first generation of women to establish themselves as professionals in New York’s financial center.  Helaine Olen and I did an appearance together in early 2014 at Oxford North America in New York.  I read her Pound Foolish on the plane–it is brilliant.  The book is all about how bogus the financial advice industry is.  It’s not only women who fall victim to that kind of thing, but women are more vulnerable because (and this is true all over the world), they tend to be less financially literate than men.

I read this book in the early spring and wholly recommend it.

There will also be a book called Women and Philanthropy because I really think women are changing that world–and because philanthropy is an important financial force for bettering the world on behalf of disadvantaged women. I included two books on the whole women on corporate boards issue, because I think getting women on those boards is crucially important and because the posts involving responsibility for finance are the best (and most powerful) avenue to that kind of leadership.  Finally, you will see on Blackwell’s site that my own book, Fresh Lipstick, is listed.  Actually, we are not going to be offering that one at Power Shift.  It’s a great read, if I do say so myself, and well researched.  But it isn’t about finance and the cover is so out of date, it is embarrassing. I have been promised a new cover and maybe that edition will be ready for next year.

All these books can be purchased also through Blackwell’s, whose site provides more information about each book and its author, as well as links to Power Shift.

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