Home » News » Dr. Veronique de Rugy Speaks on Women and Economics at Annual Dobriansky Lecture

Dr. Veronique de Rugy Speaks on Women and Economics at Annual Dobriansky Lecture

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The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) hosted the annual Lev Dobriansky Lecture on Political Economy on Tuesday, June 4.

Dr. Veronique de Rugy, the George Gibbs Chair in Political Economy and Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and nationally syndicated columnist, served as the keynote speaker.

Dr. Anne Bradley introduces Dr. de Rugy. 

Dr. Anne Bradley, the George and Sally Mayer Fellow for Economic Education and vice president of academic affairs, welcomed students and served as host and moderator for the evening. Dr. Bradley introduced Dr. de Rugy, her colleague at the Mercatus Center, and shared about the history and legacy of Lev Dobriansky, whom the annual lecture is named after.

Dr. de Rugy’s lecture, “Should We All Be Housewives?: The Rise of the New Right and Women,” provided a structured analysis on the historic and recent discourse surrounding women and the economy.

Students ask thought-provoking questions following the lecture.

Her lecture outlined the current political landscape and explained how their ideas and proposals of both Democrats and Republicans might impact market outcomes. She explained that the core of the issue is two-fold: a large number of men dropping out of the workforce and the sense that the family is in crisis. 

Dr. de Rugy called for the government to uphold the fundamental rights of all – regardless of sex or race – to chart their own path. 

One beauty of the free society is that it actually allows for a diversity of family and work arrangement based on diverse individual preferences and circumstances,” she said. 

In her remarks, de Rugy argued that some policy has gone too far, as it minimizes the role women have played in the economy, which is crucial for unlocking talent, ideas, and energy from half of the human race.

Students gather to ask Dr. de Rugy follow up questions.

“Women’s participation has taken the form of a ‘U,'” she went on to explain, emphasizing that there “was never a time when all women stayed at home.” She pointed out that prior to the 19th century, when agriculture dominated the economy, most economic activity was around the home. 

She further discussed solutions proposed by those on the left and right, outlining how bipartisan proposals like the Child Tax Credit and Federal Paid Leave program are costly at a time when government has a debt of $34 trillion and is running annual deficits of nearly $2 trillion.

The most important policy to lift people out of poverty and create a religious tolerance based on liberal values is economic growth,” she said. 

De Rugy’s remarks sparked student debate and discussion on this important topic. Following the lecture, students continued the conversation with thoughtful follow-up questions to learn more.


The lecture’s namesake, Lev Dobrianksy, was a beloved professor and founding director of the first TFAS programs in Washington. Since 1996, TFAS students have attended this annual lecture to hear from a prominent scholar on the topic of political economy. Previous speakers have included:

  • Dr. Rachel Ferguson, director of the Center for Free Enterprise at the College of Business at Concordia University Chicago,
  • Dr. Steve Hanke professor of applied economics and founder and co-director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at the Johns Hopkins University,
  • Amity Shlaes, author and chair of the board at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation,
  • TFAS Senior Scholar Dr. James Otteson, the John T. Ryan Jr. Professor of Business Ethics University of Notre Dame, and
  • Nobel Laureate Dr. James Buchanan.

Watch the full lecture below:

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