Cece Burger: Feminist Historiography

For this blog, I began on Wikipedia researching the basic facts of historiography and searching for a historiographical approach that appealed to me. I was drawn to feminist history and felt a re-reading of history from a female perspective would be interesting because it could engage with material I have already learned in a completely new way. Emphasizing the female viewpoint unearths women’s historical experience while also allowing for a more balanced reinterpretation of history.

I found an exceptionally interesting article by Kimberly Christensen, a professor of economics and women’s studies, examining the impact of the 2007 Great Recession on women with a focus on the female perspective. Christensen begins with an explanation of the traditional narratives, which often claim disproportionate job losses were experienced by men. She continues with an overview of evidence regarding gendered distribution of job loss during the recession and then examined the position of women and men in the U.S. economy. The quantitative evidence found by Christensen shows little support for the claim that males were disproportionately laid-off.  Christensen goes through a few more important contextual aspects of women in the workplace and concludes women were in fact impacted greater by the recession. Christensen ends by stressing the impact of continued sexism on the employment of women and the implications this has for progress towards gender equality.

Christensen employs a feminist historiographical approach to the Great Recession to analyze the experience of women during this time to challenge the traditional narrative. I found her writing slightly technical but clear and concise enough to make it accessible to the general public. She uses a multitude of graphs, data and reliable sources to support and validate her claims. Christensen addresses and disputes the inaccuracies behind rash characterizations of the recession in a level-headed manner. Through the utilization of facts and figures, she could prove other assertions were skewed, without sounding overly bias herself. Christensen takes everything a step further by explaining why the feminist narrative matters. She emphasizes that one-sided views on the recession have caused negative societal effects on women and minorities. Effects such as wage gaps, higher job loss, and issues in the workplace can all be traced back in part to false claims that unfairly sympathize males. Christensen’s work and research are important in tandem with other perspectives to provide a fuller picture of a historical event. I felt Christenson expertly uses this historiographical approach to make a fuller argument about the broader sexism in American society and its debilitating effect on women.

Source: Kimberly Christensen, “He-cession? She-cession? The Gendered Impact of the Great Recession in the United States.” Sage Journals: Review of Radical Political Economics Vol 47, pp. 368-388. Accessed 9 October 2017.

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