The First Nobel Prize in Economics Awarded to a Woman


Today, Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the Novel Prize in Economics, together with Oliver Williamson, both Americans.  She never even got a Ph.D. in Economics.  This, combined with  her picture, above, make me feel great, for two reasons.

Disciplines are merging

Ostrom won for her work with common-pool resources, which are basically public goods like the atmosphere or forests, but with the caveat that they are subtractable, meaning they can be used up, whereas purely public goods, such as roads, cannot. She found that,

those with a vested interest in the resources they manage are frequently better at regulating those resources than publicly-appointed management bodies would be.

Despite her work in this field, a problem economists commonly deal with (resource constraints), she is not at all an economist, but got her PhD in Political Science.  This confirms my belief that it is now easier than ever to transition between disciplines in the workplace, with the exception of hard-boiled sciences, which is totally a relief, because what if I want to become a political scientists someday?  Studies have been saying as much for the past twenty years (read this PDF, and see, alarmingly , how similar the world environment is today), and even more recently.

This is great news. Career flexibility is of utmost importance to my generation, and I used to think this was pretty much crap, until I decided I liked options.  What if I want to, at some point, go into marketing?  Or finance?  Or even owning my own dog paint studio (a girl can dream, can’t she?) Or becoming a stay-at-home-overnight-success-economics-novelist?  I can do any of those things, as long as I use my previous experience to spin my qualifications the right way, as the Nobel Committee did to Ostrom.  What’s even more exciting is how many possibilities the field of economics has, leading me to believe that I picked the right major all along, because there are so many different directions I can go in Economics.

It’s always had a deep overlap with politics, with game theory, but now economics overlaps even with things like neuroscience (although the connection is pretty tenuous right now.)

Which brings me to my second observation:

Women don’t have to be supermodels or housewives

I don’t know about you, but for me it is such a relief to see a successful woman who doesn’t look like this:


Or like this:


But that actually is successful because she is smart and worked damn hard to get it.  And that, to recieve her prize, she doesn’t have to dress like a piece of toilet paper:


I am so grateful that role models like still exist and are not relegated to the past like pre-Botox smiles and pictures without Photoshop filters.   Thank you, Dr. Ostrom.  You rock.