Helena was the first Women’s Studies teacher/ researcher at a Dutch University. This was in 1976, at the Groningen University.
As a student of econometrics at the University of Rotterdam, and active in the women’s movement, she discovered how women’s work was invisible in economic theory and research. She published various articles and booklets on the subject (see ATRIA’s catalogue). Still a student, she was asked by the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau (SCP) to compile the first statistical analyis / overview on Dutch women. This was 1974. Later the SCP published more so called Social Atlas on Dutch Women.
In her thesis for her ‘doctoraal’ degree in econometrics in Rotterdam, she did an empirical study on the labor participation of married women in the Netherlands. She was allowed to use official but anonimous (income tax) data about 1000 married men and their wifes, including number of hours worked, earned wages, level of education, age, children, political inclination etc.
At around the same time, a group of sociology students at the University of Groningen were involved in an action research among the secretaries of the university. With the support of Professor Ger Harmsen, the possibility then arose to hire a university teacher for women’s studies. Helena applied and got the job, because of her previous research work. Please contact us if you would like to have access to this research.
Based on existing theories about nut maximalisation among members of a famliy, Helena compared the so called ‘income effect’ with the ‘substitution effect’ for married women: if a woman’s wages goes up, does she want to work less hours (as her income can stay the same with less hours worked) or does she increase her number of hours on the labor market (as staying at home becomes more expensive)?
At a macro economic level these effects are also present: when there are less jobs, wages tend to go down and there is a ‘discouraged worker’ effect among married women, students and retired workers. They leave the labor market. In the same way one can quantify the “added worker” effect: more maried women join the labor market when there are more jobs.