|Born||7 June 1963|
|Died||5 March 2014(aged 50)|
|Occupation||Professor of economics|
|Employer||Glasgow Caledonian University|
|Known for||Research on gender inequalities and the economics of the welfare state, feminist economics and basic income|
She was noted for her research on gender inequalities and the economics of the welfare state, for her contributions to feminist economics, as a leading proponent of the basic income concept and as one of the UK's foremost experts on gender budgeting. She served as Vice Dean of the Glasgow School for Business and Society, and was also well known for her support of Scottish independence and as a key adviser to the Scottish government and First Minister Alex Salmond on economic and welfare state policies. Ailsa McKay is highlighted as a leading intellectual figure in the campaign for independence in Alex Salmond's 2015 book The Dream Shall Never Die. Both Salmond and his successor Nicola Sturgeon have highlighted McKay's influence on Scottish gender equality policies.
She was a member of the board of directors of the left-wing Jimmy Reid Foundation think tank, and was an adviser to the United Nations. With Margunn Bjørnholt, she co-edited the book Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics, which was published days before her death. The Ailsa McKay Fellowship, the Ailsa McKay Lecture, one of the foremost honours in feminist economics, and the McKay House at Lenzie Academy are named in her honour.
Career and work
McKay joined Glasgow Caledonian University as a lecturer in economics in 1991. She later became head of department for economics and international business and Vice Dean of the Glasgow School for Business and Society. She was Reader in Gender and Economics until her 2011 appointment as Professor of Economics.
Her research focused on gender inequalities and the economics of the welfare state, and she served as a consultant to the Scottish Parliament, the Irish Government, Her Majesty's Treasury, and the United Nations Development Programme. Since 2006, she held the visiting chair in gender studies at the Complutense University of Madrid, and was invited as an expert witness to give evidence during the budget process to the Scottish Parliament and the Parliament of Canada. She was a leading authority on gender budget analysis in the United Kingdom. She was also a business commentator for The Herald newspaper. In 2012 she was appointed by the Scottish Government as a member of the Expert Working Group on Welfare and Constitutional Reform.
Her 2005 book The Future of Social Security Policy is according to Almaz Zelleke in Basic Income Studies, a "feminist critique of the neoclassical economic framework in which social security policies are traditionally assessed". The work argues that "this framework is biased in a way that prioritizes income-maintenance aspects of social security policy above all others."
McKay was a founding member of the Scottish Women's Budget Group, a founding member of the European Gender Budget Network, a board member of the Jimmy Reid Foundation and chairperson of the European chapter of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE).
She was noted as a proponent of Scottish independence and a citizens' basic income. She was also a contributor to the Jimmy Reid Foundation's Common Weal reports, including a report on welfare which was published after her death.
McKay was a noted and early proponent of the basic income concept. She argued in 2001 that "social policy reform should take account of all gender inequalities and not just those relating to the traditional labor market" and that "the citizens' basic income model can be a tool for promoting gender-neutral social citizenship rights."
Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics
Her final academic work is Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics, a new anthology in the field of feminist economics that went into print just days before her death, that aims to map the development in the field in the last two decades. In the opening chapter, "Advances in Feminist Economics in Times of Economic Crisis," McKay and her co-editor Margunn Bjørnholt call for a reshaping of the economy, economic theory and the economics profession, taking into account "advances within feminist economics that take as their starting point the socially responsible, sensible and accountable subject in creating an economy and economic theories that fully acknowledge care for each other as well as the planet." The book was described by Winthrop Professor of Economics Alison Preston as "a timely reminder of the politics and economics underpinning what, how and by whom activities and outputs are valued. For those concerned with social justice and sustainable futures, this important and powerful book provides an invaluable and practical insight into issues that are in need of greater visibility." Economics commentator Maria Reinertsen compared the book to Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, arguing that "while Thomas Piketty's bestseller Capital in the Twenty-First Century barely tests the discipline's boundaries in its focus on the rich, Counting on Marilyn Waring challenges most limits of what economists should care about." According to Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, the book explores "a wide range of issues—including the fundamental meaning of economic growth and activity to consumption, health care, mortality, unpaid household work, mothering, education, nutrition, equality, and sustainability" and reveals "the breadth, depth, and substance that can grow from innovative ideas and critical analysis." Diane Elson argues that "despite many valiant efforts, women do not as yet really count in the conduct of economic policy. This book is an imaginative contribution to an ongoing struggle." In a review in Feminist Economics, Patricia E. Perkins calls the book "a joy to read and a revelation" and "a fitting culmination of [McKay's] lifelong work using economics to advance equity for women." The book is quoted in Melinda Gates' 2019 book The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.
Death and legacy
McKay died aged 50 on the morning of 5 March 2014, following a year-long battle with cancer.
First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond praised McKay's "astonishing contribution as a feminist economist, both in arguing the case for women into work, and in being the principal author and arguer for many years for the transformation of childcare that will make that possible," while Salmond's eventual successor Nicola Sturgeon described her as "an inspirational economist and feminist." Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont described her as a "woman of great wisdom".
Pamela Gillies, principal and vice-chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, wrote: "In her far too early death, Scotland has lost an important force for good, the University has lost a greatly valued, committed and intellectually vibrant colleague and I have lost a dear friend. Professor Ailsa McKay will be missed by so many, but a scholarship founded in her name by the University she loved will inspire future generations of young, similarly feisty scholars to debate and to act for social change." Professor Michael Danson praised her "lifetime inspiring a better kind of economics in Scotland and across the world."
A January 2015 conference in honour of McKay attended by academics and politicians paid tribute to her work. Former First Minister Alex Salmond said that "my regret is this, that I didn't take forward Ailsa's policies in my first ministerial stage."
Ailsa McKay is highlighted as a leading intellectual figure in the campaign for Scottish independence in Alex Salmond's 2015 book The Dream Shall Never Die.
She was married to fellow economist Jim Campbell and had two children.
Ailsa McKay Lecture
The Ailsa McKay Lecture is the foremost honour in feminist economics, and has been delivered by:
- 2016: Nancy Folbre: "The Political Economy of Patriarchal Capitalism"
- 2017: Philippe Van Parijs: "Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy"
- 2018: Stephanie Seguino: "The Contradictory Gender Effects of Globalisation"
- 2019: Rhonda Sharp: "Gender Responsive Budgeting in Challenging Times"
- Margunn Bjørnholt and Ailsa McKay (eds.), Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics, with a foreword by Julie A. Nelson, Demeter Press, 2014, ISBN 9781927335277
- Jobs for the Boys and the Girls: Promoting a Smart Successful Scotland Three Years On (with Jim Campbell, Morag Gillespie and Anne Meikle), Scottish Affairs, 66, 2009
- Why a citizens' basic income? A question of gender equality or gender bias, Work Employment & Society, 21 (2): 337–348, 2007
- From Gender Blind to Gender Focused: Re-Evaluating the Scottish Modern Apprenticeship Programme (with Jim Campbell and Emily Thomson), Scottish Affairs, 57, 2006
- How Modern is the Modern Apprenticeship (with Jim Campbell and Emily Thomson), Local Economy, 20 (3), 2005
- The Future of Social Security Policy: Women, Work and a Citizen’s Basic Income, Routledge, 2005
- Rethinking Work and Income Maintenance Policy: Promoting Gender Equality Through a Citizens' Basic Income, Feminist Economics, 7 (1): 97–118, 2001
- Gender, Family, and Income Maintenance: A Feminist Case for Citizens Basic Income (with Jo Vanevery), Social Politics, 7 (2): 266–284, 2000
- Obituaries (22 March 2014). "Ailsa McKay". The Herald. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Alex Salmond, The Dream Shall Never Die: 100 Days that Changed Scotland Forever, William Collins, 2015, ISBN 0008139768
- Lenzie Academy honour Professor Ailsa Mckay, caledonianblogs.net
- "Professor Ailsa McKay". Glasgow School for Business and Society. Archived from the original on 25 December 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "Ailsa McKay". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Veitch, Fiona (23 November 2011). "Masterclass studies gender budget analysis". Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "Expert Working Group on Welfare and Constitutional Reform". Scottish Government. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Almaz Zelleke, "Review of Ailsa McKay, The Future of Social Security Policy: Women, Work and a Citizens’ Basic Income," Basic Income Studies, 1:2, 2006
- "Alex Salmond leads tribute to economist who battled for gender equality". Evening Times. Newsquest. 6 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Stewart, Catriona (7 March 2014). "Tributes for Caley Uni professor Ailsa". Evening Times. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Steven, Alasdair (11 March 2014). "Obituary: Professor Ailsa McKay, professor of economics". The Scotsman. Johnston Press. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
- Connor Beaton, Economics professor passes after cancer battle, 6 March 2014
- "Ailsa McKay". Jimmy Reid Foundation. 6 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- McKay, Ailsa (2001). "Rethinking Work and Income Maintenance Policy: Promoting Gender Equality Through a Citizens' Basic Income". Feminist Economics. 7 (1): 97–118. doi:10.1080/13545700010022721.
- Bjørnholt, Margunn; McKay, Ailsa (2014). "Advances in Feminist Economics in Times of Economic Crisis". In Bjørnholt, Margunn; McKay, Ailsa (eds.). Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics. Demeter Press. ISBN 9781927335277.
- Morgenbladet, 4–10 July 2014, pp. 6–7
- Sullivan, T.E. (2014). "Counting on Marilyn Waring: new advances in feminist economics". Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. 52 (3): 52–1517. doi:10.5860/CHOICE.185300.
- Elson, Diane (2015). "Book Review: Counting on Marilyn Waring: new advances in feminist economics". Feminist Review. 109 (109): e9–e11. doi:10.1057/fr.2014.58. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- Perkins, Patricia E. (2015). "Book Review: Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics". Feminist Economics. doi:10.1080/13545701.2015.1069370.
- Gates, Melinda (2019). The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World. Macmillan. ISBN 9781250313577.
- "Economics professor passes after cancer battle". The Targe. 6 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "Lamont says 'huge issues facing women' deeper than constitutional arrangements". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- "Our Staff: Professor Ailsa McKay". Glasgow Caledonian University. Archived from the original on 19 November 2014.
- Michael Danson, An appreciation of Ailsa McKay, 1963 – 2014, openDemocracy.net, 10 March 2014
- Stewart, Catriona (22 January 2015). "Alex Salmond to pay tribute to late academic Ailsa McKay". Evening Times. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Conference to celebrate the life of internationally renowned Scottish economist, deadlinenews.co.uk
- "Commemorative conference marks the life of leading feminist economist" (Press release). Glasgow Caledonian University. 19 January 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Nancy Folbre delivers inaugural McKay Lecture, gcu.ac.uk
- 2nd Ailsa McKay Lecture
- Research news
- 4th Annual Ailsa McKay Memorial Lecture
- "Counting on Marilyn Waring". Brunswick Books. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Jim Campbell and Morag Gillespie (eds.), Feminist Economics and Public Policy: Reflections on the work and impact of Ailsa McKay, Routledge, 2016