The URPE’s Women’s Caucus started in 1972, in the form of a walk-out of women members at an URPE Summer Conference meeting in response to the failure of URPE to address the concerns of women. This resulted in the formation of a Women’s Caucus with the right to elect one member of the 12-member Steering Committee of the organization, together with a concerted effort to address issues relating to women in the Review of Radical Political Economics, URPE’s journal. Additionally, at the insistence of the Caucus, URPE instituted the ‘Affirmative Action Recognition Policy of Speakers” in the discussion periods following at conferences: this policy consisted of a requirement that the person chairing the discussion period following a presentation should not recognize two white first-world men in a row.
The Women’s Caucus met annually at subsequent summer conferences to discuss both the ways in which the organization functioned to represent women members and the extent to which it contributed to the development of feminist theory. Unfortunately, the decision to end the annual URPE Summer Conferences meant that the Women’s Caucus lost its space to meet and became dormant. The Caucus was additionally enable to effectively enforce the Affirmative Action recognition policy, and while women made up a large proportion of the membership of both the Steering Committee and the RRPE Editorial Board, there was no coherent strategy to address ongoing concerns.
As a result of the initiative of several URPE members, the Caucus was revived in 2018 and a preliminary meeting took place at the ASSA/URPE meeting on January 5, 2019. It was decided to rename the Caucus to the Caucus of Women and Non-Binary People, and to organize a full meeting during the Eastern Economic Association meetings 2019. Since then the Caucus has continued to meet both in-person and virtually and in 2023 will elect its first Representative to the Steering Committee. The Representative will serve a three-year term like other Steering Committee Members. They will chair the Caucus and represent the concerns of the Caucus to the Steering Committee, in addition to assuming other responsibilities as a Steering Committee member.