Thunderstruck?? Even I was when I read it for the first time. What connection can feminism have with economics was my first thought. Feminists say that there is a hierarchy in world in genders, with male gender being preferred. Males are considered to be superior. It is claimed that this hierarchy is reflected in economic theory as well. Not that this distinction is made by the economists but their theories portray the biases. This is how the idea works.
In economics, while making analysis assumptions are made about an economic agent. We assume that all individuals are similar. This economic agent will represent the world for economists. Feminist perspective is that the assumptions that are made about representative agents are social characteristics of male. The very basic assumption which holds most of the results in economics is the assumption of rationality of agents( taking decisions that are best for us). In the real world generally male characteristics are rational. Females, on an average take irrational decisions. They don’t just want to maximize their own satisfaction but think of the family as a whole.
Broadly, males have become the driving force of the economy. Social structures even decide what kind of jobs will be taken up by women. Discrimination happens in the work place on the basis of gender. As the hierarchy exists, some people are systematically taught not to behave against it and not to act according to their free will. Likewise, women are taught that what kind of jobs they can take up. Women grow in such an environment looking into that hierarchy that most of them get adjusted to the same view.
Although they agree that economists are not producing this idea but the theories they develop reflect the society and the discrimination. Development accordingly will mean doing away with this discrimination and not just seeing women as a residual group who needs welfare programs for their development.