Nov 1, 2012

The Woman Who Changed a Profession

Lin completed her degree in three years in time to marry her high school sweetheart, Charles “Chuck” Scott. Immediately after college, in 1954, they moved to Cambridge, MA so Chuck could attend Harvard Law School. Lin supported them by working first as a secretary and soon, after making a position for herself in what today is called “human resources,” in administration at the electronic test equipment manufacturer, GenRad. Following Chuck’s graduation from law school, they returned to Beverley Hills where Chuck began a practice in entertainment law and Lin began to think about graduate school for herself. However, when Lin returned to UCLA, it was not as a graduate student, but as a secretary. She began taking classes in public policy and in economics as time allowed. Lin was not admitted into the economics department graduate program and there were many in the political science department who opposed her acceptance into their Ph.D. program. Her family likewise did not support her plan to pursue a career, but she persevered. She and Chuck Scott divorced amicably and Lin went on to the life we all knew.
That is from a fascinating obituary of Lin Ostrom (1933 - 2012) by Herzberg and Allen (October 2012) published in Public Choice
The first lines of the obituary:
There are few people whose life and work has the capacity to change an entire profession. Elinor Ostrom was one such person, which makes her loss on June 12, 2012, such a great blow to the discipline she loved. Her work changed how we think about institutions of governance. She taught us to be careful about generalizations and to embrace complexity rather than avoid it in our models. To those who knew this work, it was not surprising when the Nobel committee recognized those contributions by awarding her the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics (The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) with Oliver Williamson.
It is awesome that Public Choice allows free access to many new articles!

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