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ELINOR ‘LIN’ OSTROM, Nobel Prize Economist

By Lisa C. Herman Ellison in National Women’s History Museum


In this lesson, students will experience the tragedy of the commons through a team activity in which they compete for resources.  After a brief teacher-led discussion of the problems of natural resource management and long-held solutions of economists, students are introduced to economist Elinor Ostrom, who developed a third solution (community rulemaking) – and in the process, revolutionized how economists and policymakers address such problems.  Through a jigsaw activity, students will identify financial, educational, and career challenges Ostrom faced due to her gender and explain how she overcame those challenges to become the first female Nobel Prize economist. FOR MORE


I was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 7, 1933, and grew up during the Great Depression. Fortunately, our house had a large backyard that we filled with a vegetable garden and fruit trees. I learned how to grow vegetables and how to can apricots and peaches during the heat of summer. During World War II, I learned how to knit scarves for the “boys overseas.” My childhood was spent learning and doing the traditional activities of a girl during the last century. My major recreational activity was swimming, and I eventually joined a swimming team and swam competitively until I started teaching swimming to earn funds that I could save to help put me through college.


women in science, women leaders, womens history, WOMENS LIVES, womens work

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