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Inspiring Thursday: Gabriele Michalitsch

„Die Verteilung von Kapital, Vermögen und Einkommen […], der herrschende Arbeitsbegriff ebenso wie das dominante Ökonomie-Verständnis, das sind zentrale Topoi im feministisch-ökonomischen Diskurs.“

“The distribution of capital, wealth and income […], the dominant concept of labor as well as the dominant understanding of economics, these are central topoi in feminist economic discourse.”

Gabriele Michalitsch (*1966 in Vienna) is a political scientist and feminist economist. She studied political science and a combination of philosophy, Spanish and journalism at the University of Vienna as well as economics at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. So far, she has held visiting professorships in Istanbul, Budapest, Mexico and Beijing. (That being said, it is not surprising, but yet impressive that she speaks German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and Chinese!) Currently, she teaches at the Institute of Political Science and in the Master’s program Gender Studies at the University of Vienna.

Her other engagements and functions include a collaboration with “Women and Financial Policy in Austria”, the co-founding of the “Joan Robinson Association for gender-equal distribution of economic knowledge” in Vienna and the co-editing of the book series “Women, Research and Economics” of the Vienna University of Economics and Business. In 2002-2005, she chaired the Council of Europe’s Expert Group on Gender Budgeting. She also supports civil society initiatives with her expertise, including the first and second women’s referendums (in 1997 and 2018 respectively) in Austria.

Gabriele Michalitsch has been presenting the findings of her feminist, socially critical theoretical work to the public in countless lectures, newspaper articles, interviews, and panel and television discussions for many years. Her teaching and publications are devoted to the (gendered) relationship between labor and capital, gender constructions in political and economic theories, the relationship between state and economy, and the genesis of modern economics and neoliberalism.

She has successfully been fighting for feminist political economy to have a place in academic teaching and research in Austria and has given this field of research its contour, substance and significance: The essential scientific contributions on the development of neoliberalism in Austria from a feminist political economy perspective came from her. Feminist economics can be understood as a tool for exposing existing power relations far beyond the economic sphere; as such, feminist economic theorizing can (and should) also help with imagining and designing an alternative social order that overcomes the separation of public and private.

Despite her theoretical focus and her success in the academic field, her publications and lectures are not characterized by the usual allegedly objective academic distance. Rather, the theoretical scope of her work is shaped by critique and commitment, by engagement and political stance – ultimately: by passion. Instead of insisting on memorizing and reproducing pure data and facts, she encourages her students to see the bigger picture and engage in critical thoughts and discussions. This is what sets her apart from many other university professors and makes her, in addition to her ongoing contributions to political feminist economic theory, a truly inspirational figure of our times.


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Written by WAVE Intern Verena Henneberger