On 14th October 2019, Esther Duflo, Abhijeet Banerjee and Michael Kremer were announced winners of the Noble Prize in Economics. The three are awarded for their exceptional research and work to alleviate global poverty.
The news was received with mighty acceptance and celebration in India and abroad. The Indian media churned out many pieces celebrating the three noble laureates. However, most articles downplayed the role of Esther Duflo, a remarkable economist, by choosing to not name her and instead call her ‘the wife of Abhijit Banerjee’(an Indian-American economist).
While many took to Twitter and unconventional media websites published write-ups the next day calling out the casual sexism portrayed by the Indian media once again, the economist herself has little to no care about it.
In a recent interview with an Indian newspaper, Esther Duflo was asked whether the headlines that read ‘wife of’ upsets her, to which she had a very nonchalant answer. She said the headlines did not upset her because, in the particular instance of winning a Noble prize, it becomes a matter of national pride.
She informed that the French press similarly carried the news, it read ‘Esther Duflo and two economists, including husband, win Noble Prize’. She then went to appreciate the way PM Narendra Modi acknowledged and congratulated her and the third economist Michael Kremer in a separate tweet, while he sent out a single congratulatory tweet for Abhijit Banerjee.
Esther perspective does tell us to cut some slack for the Indian media. An Indian-American to have won the Noble Prize is a boastful fact for Indians. Although, only if the event is seen in singularity, the perspective steers clear of any sexism.