Have you ever wondered how Mathematics can solve real world problems? The linked article, by Alisa Odenheimer, in BloombergBusinessWeek, describes an effort in Economics that I had never even considered, let alone heard of, http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/557542?type=bloomberg.
The article refers to Analia Schlosser, a Professor of Economics at Tel Aviv University. As a young student, Mrs. Schlosser liked Mathematics and Economics; however, she eventually focused her attention on issues that were being overlooked. She decided that she wanted to work on solvable issues--rather than on theoretical ones.
For instance, as a Doctoral Student in 2005, she noticed that roughly 70% of Jewish Women work, as compared to only 20% of Arab Women. As she approached the issue, she realized that it was not due to cultural concerns. But, it weakened the neighboring Palestinian Economy.
Eventually, she realized that Jewish Women had access to free Childcare, and Arabs did not. When Childcare was provide for for Arab Children beginning at age 3, in just one small town, Arab Women’s contribution to the local Economy began to blossom. Eventually, Childcare was provided throughout Palestine.
She has also studied Gender Separation. Professor Schlosser considered whether Children get a better education in separate Gender-Specific classes, or when the sexes are mixed. She found that a greater concentration of Girls in classes with Boys improves the educational outcome for all, and lowers disturbances, violence and teacher fatigue.
As someone who has studied Economics and worked for many years around it, I had never thought much about Women’s or Family Issues in the field. To me, it might have been like a Women’s Investment Seminar–a 50 minute Fashion Show, followed by a ten minute sales pitch. But, obviously Economics and Sales are not the same. I believe that Professor Schlosser and her colleagues (in the field) are on to something!