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The story of non-economist Elinor Ostrom - Page 2

They were the Ostrom's first encounters with the respectful but earnest debates she now characterizes as "contestation."

Her parents separated and divorced, and Elinor, or "Lin," as she is known, remained with her mother, scratching out a living during the Great Depression and World War II era, growing their own food in their backyard Victory Garden. She graduated from Beverly Hills High School, a fact that amuses friends and acquaintances. "Technically, we lived in Los Angeles, but the high school was literally across the street," she said.

"I'm very grateful for that opportunity, because 90 percent of the kids who went to Beverly Hills High School went on to college. I don't think I would have gone to college if not for being in that environment."

It was not always a nurturing place, however, especially in her younger childhood years. Although she attended a Protestant Sunday school, her peers linked her to her father's religious and cultural heritage. "I got circled in the schoolroom, out on the playground."

'You Jew! You Jew!'" she recalled, her voice rising, imitating the taunts.

"Having that experience as a kid and being a woman, and having that challenge as it has been at different times to be a woman, I've got pretty good sympathy for people who are not necessarily at the center of civic appreciation," she said with a wry chuckle.

Early adulthood
Ostrom earned a bachelor's degree with honors in political science from UCLA in 1954 and married a classmate, Charles Scott. The couple moved to Boston, where Scott enrolled in Harvard's law school. Lin found work at General Radio, one of the first electronics firms in Cambridge.

"I had a college degree but everyone asked me if I could take shorthand and typing," she said. "I didn't know shorthand, of course, but I took it through mail order."

She moved through personnel at the electronics company to a similar job at a Boston law firm. "Basically I put my husband through law school and he entered a corporate law firm," she said. "I was thinking of doing a Ph.D., and he was not too enthusiastic."

[Read more,click "Next"]

Last Updated (Wednesday, 09 December 2009 08:21)


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