front cover of Breadwinners and Citizens
Breadwinners and Citizens
Gender in the Making of the French Social Model
Laura Levine Frader
Duke University Press, 2008
Laura Levine Frader’s synthesis of labor history and gender history brings to the fore failures in realizing the French social model of equality for all citizens. Challenging previous scholarship, she argues that the male breadwinner ideal was stronger in France in the interwar years than scholars have typically recognized, and that it had negative consequences for women’s claims to the full benefits of citizenship. She describes how ideas about masculinity, femininity, family, and work affected post–World War I reconstruction, policies designed to address France’s postwar population deficit, and efforts to redefine citizenship in the 1920s and 1930s. She demonstrates that gender divisions and the male breadwinner ideal were reaffirmed through the policies and practices of labor, management, and government. The social model that France implemented in the 1920s and 1930s incorporated fundamental social inequalities.

Frader’s analysis moves between the everyday lives of ordinary working women and men and the actions of national policymakers, political parties, and political movements, including feminists, pro-natalists, and trade unionists. In the years following World War I, the many women and an increasing number of immigrant men in the labor force competed for employment and pay. Family policy was used not only to encourage reproduction but also to regulate wages and the size of the workforce. Policies to promote married women’s and immigrants’ departure from the labor force were more common when jobs were scarce, as they were during the Depression. Frader contends that gender and ethnicity exerted a powerful and unacknowledged influence on French social policy during the Depression era and for decades afterward.


front cover of Gendering Labor History
Gendering Labor History
Alice Kessler-Harris
University of Illinois Press, 2006

This collection represents the thirty-year intellectual trajectory of one of today’s leading historians of gender and labor in the United States. The seventeen essays are divided into four sections, narrating the evolution and refinement of Alice Kessler-Harris's central project: showing gender’s fundamental importance in the shaping of United States history and working class culture. 

The first section considers women and organized labor while the second pushes this analysis toward a gendered labor history as the essays consider the gendering of male as well as female workers and how gender operates with and within the social category of class. Subsequent sections broaden this framework to examine U.S. social policy as a whole, the question of economic citizenship, and wage labor from a global perspective. While each essay represents an important intervention in American historiography in itself, the collection taken as a whole shows Kessler-Harris continuing to push the field of American history to greater levels of inclusion and analysis.


front cover of Never Done
Never Done
A History of Women’s Work in Media Production
Hill, Erin
Rutgers University Press, 2016
Winner of the 2018 Best First Book Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS)​

Histories of women in Hollywood usually recount the contributions of female directors, screenwriters, designers, actresses, and other creative personnel whose names loom large in the credits. Yet, from its inception, the American film industry relied on the labor of thousands more women, workers whose vital contributions often went unrecognized. 
Never Done introduces generations of women who worked behind the scenes in the film industry—from the employees’ wives who hand-colored the Edison Company’s films frame-by-frame, to the female immigrants who toiled in MGM’s backrooms to produce beautifully beaded and embroidered costumes. Challenging the dismissive characterization of these women as merely menial workers, media historian Erin Hill shows how their labor was essential to the industry and required considerable technical and interpersonal skills. Sketching a history of how Hollywood came to define certain occupations as lower-paid “women’s work,” or “feminized labor,” Hill also reveals how enterprising women eventually gained a foothold in more prestigious divisions like casting and publicity.   

front cover of Nursing Civil Rights
Nursing Civil Rights
Gender and Race in the Army Nurse Corps
Charissa J. Threat
University of Illinois Press, 2015
In Nursing Civil Rights, Charissa J. Threat investigates the parallel battles against occupational segregation by African American women and white men in the U.S. Army.

As Threat reveals, both groups viewed their circumstances with the Army Nurse Corps as a civil rights matter. Each conducted separate integration campaigns to end the discrimination they suffered. Yet their stories defy the narrative that civil rights struggles inevitably arced toward social justice. Threat tells how progressive elements in the campaigns did indeed break down barriers in both military and civilian nursing. At the same time, she follows conservative threads to portray how some of the women who succeeded as agents of change became defenders of exclusionary practices when men sought military nursing careers. The ironic result was a struggle that simultaneously confronted and reaffirmed the social hierarchies that nurtured discrimination.


front cover of Precarious Professionals
Precarious Professionals
Gender, Identities and Social Change in Modern Britain
Edited by Heidi Egginton and Zoë Thomas
University of London Press, 2021
Precarious Professionals details the fight for equality in the workplace, particularly among women and queer people in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain.
Precarious Professionals uncovers the inequalities and insecurities which lay at the heart of professional life in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain. This book challenges conventional categories in the history of work, exploring instead the everyday labor of maintaining a professional identity on the margins of the traditional professions. Situating new historical perspectives on gender at the forefront of their research, the contributors explore how professional cultures could not only define themselves against but often flourished outside of, the confines of patriarchal codes and structures.

Precarious Professionals offers twelve fascinating case studies, ranging between the 1840s and the 1960s. From pioneering female lawyers and scientists to ballet dancers, secretaries, historians, humanitarian relief workers, social researchers, and Cold War diplomats, this book reveals that precarity was a thread woven throughout the very fabric of modern professional life. Together, these essays enrich our understanding of the histories and mysteries of professional identity and help us to reimagine the future of work in precarious times.

front cover of Speaking of Sex
Speaking of Sex
The Denial of Gender Inequality
Deborah L. Rhode
Harvard University Press, 1997

Speaking of Sex explores a topic that too often drops out of our discussions when we speak about sex: the persistent problem of sex-based inequality and the cultural forces that sustain it. On critical issues affecting women, most Americans deny either that gender inequality is a serious problem or that it is one that they have a personal or political responsibility to address. In tracing this “no problem” problem, Speaking of Sex examines the most fundamental causes of women’s disadvantages and the inadequacy of current public policy to combat them.

Although in the past quarter-century the United States has made major progress in addressing gender discrimination, women still face substantial obstacles in their private, public, and professional lives. On every significant measure of wealth, power, status, and security, women remain less advantaged than men. Deborah Rhode reveals the ways that the culture denies, discounts, or attempts to justify those inequalities. She shows that only by making inequality more visible can we devise an adequate strategy to confront it.

Speaking of Sex examines patterns of gender inequality across a wide array of social, legal, and public policy settings. Challenging conventional biological explanations for gender differences, Rhode explores the media images and childrearing practices that reinforce traditional gender stereotypes. On policies involving employment, divorce, custody, rape, pornography, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and reproductive choice, Speaking of Sex reveals how we continually overlook the gap between legal rights and daily experience. All too often, even Americans who condemn gender inequality in principle cannot see it in practice—in their own lives, homes, and work environments. In tracing these patterns, Rhode uncovers the deeply ingrained assumptions that obscure and perpetuate women’s disadvantages.


front cover of Transforming Masculine Rule
Transforming Masculine Rule
Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Union
Elisabeth Prügl
University of Michigan Press, 2011

"The premise of mainstreaming gender is to bring equality concerns into every aspect of policy-making, and this brave book offers a close look at how feminists have taken up the challenge to transform the hidden dynamics of male domination in agricultural policy in Europe. In contrast to the automatic assumption that (neo)liberal policy always works against women’s interests, Prügl demonstrates the potential for feminist ju-jitsu to take advantage of multiple levels of governance to empower women in some circumstances. Although feminists were not always successful, the story of their efforts to remake agricultural policy should encourage activists to look for points of leverage in this and other contested and changing multilevel power systems."
---Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin

"Information on policy development, conflicts about improving the status of farm women, and using rural development policies to foster gender equality is hard to access in English and extremely useful for researchers concerned with the specifics of gender equality policy in the EU."
---Alison Woodward, Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

"This book is a must-read for scholars interested in the gendered process of global restructuring. Elisabeth Prügl succeeds superbly in teasing out the power politics involved in European agricultural policy. Through the lens of a feminist-constructivist approach, she makes visible the multiple mechanisms of gendered power within the state. This very lucid narrative is a milestone in a new generation of feminist theoretical scholarship."
---Brigitte Young, University of Muenster, Germany

Taking West and East Germany as case studies, Elisabeth Prügl shows how European agricultural policy has cemented long-standing gender-based inequalities and how feminists have used liberalization as an opportunity to challenge such inequalities. Through a comparison of the EU’s rural development program known as LEADER as it played out in the Altmark region in the German East and in the Danube/Bavarian Forest region in the West, Prügl provides a close-up view of the power politics involved in government policies and programs.

In identifying mechanisms of power (refusal, co-optation, compromise, normalization, and silencing of difference), Prügl illustrates how these mechanisms operate in arguments over gender relations within the state. Her feminist-constructivist approach to global restructuring as a gendered process brings into view multiple levels of governance and the variety of gender constructions operating in different societies. Ultimately, Prügl offers a new understanding of patriarchy as diverse, contested, and in flux.

Jacket photograph: © Kryczka


front cover of Wall Street Women
Wall Street Women
Melissa S. Fisher
Duke University Press, 2012
Wall Street Women tells the story of the first generation of women to establish themselves as professionals on Wall Street. Since these women, who began their careers in the 1960s, faced blatant discrimination and barriers to advancement, they created formal and informal associations to bolster one another's careers. In this important historical ethnography, Melissa S. Fisher draws on fieldwork, archival research, and extensive interviews with a very successful cohort of first-generation Wall Street women. She describes their professional and political associations, most notably the Financial Women's Association of New York City and the Women's Campaign Fund, a bipartisan group formed to promote the election of pro-choice women.

Fisher charts the evolution of the women's careers, the growth of their political and economic clout, changes in their perspectives and the cultural climate on Wall Street, and their experiences of the 2008 financial collapse. While most of the pioneering subjects of Wall Street Women did not participate in the women's movement as it was happening in the 1960s and 1970s, Fisher argues that they did produce a "market feminism" which aligned liberal feminist ideals about meritocracy and gender equity with the logic of the market.


front cover of Woman'S Place Is At The Typewriter
Woman'S Place Is At The Typewriter
Margery W. Davies
Temple University Press, 1984
"Compelling. It serves as a lesson and a warning, for it might disabuse many women of their notion that the first step toward the executive ladder is at a typewriter. Certainly [it] suggests MBAs for aspiring women, rather than Smith-Coronas." --Boston Sunday Globe In most societies, a sexual division of labor is usually regarded as "natural." Thus, in the United States today not only does it seem proper that woman's place is at the stove, or with the children, or in the classroom, or at the typewriter, but it also seems "natural" it was always so. Looking at clerical workers, the author shows how work once performed by men became redefined as "women's work." She explores this shift in the context of patriarchal social relations and political-economic forces. The interaction of which determined woman's place in the office. Before 1900, male clerical workers, as apprentice capitalists, performed a wide variety of tasks that helped them learn the business. By 1930, the class position of clerical workers had changed, and autonomous male clerks were transformed into working class females--a "secretarial proletariat." Based on business histories, corporation records, correspondence. and even fiction. Dr. Davies' work demonstrates how the feminization of clerical work is historically specific rather than ordained by nature; how it reflects the peculiar forms which patriarchy have assumed in the United States; and how the working class status of contemporary office workers began to take shape at the end of the nineteenth century. From the time the first female office worker was hired by US Treasurer General Elias Spinner during the Civil War and it became apparent that female labor was cheaper than male, women became increasingly visible in the office. The author accounts for this by discussing the decrease in productive work in the home, the perceived higher status of office work, and the better working conditions in offices. She also looks at scientific office management, which crystallized labor specialization and helped eliminate worker control over work. Examining the role of the private secretary, she concludes this apparently more attractive position served to mask the realities of typical office work. Perhaps the most interesting conclusion reached in this book is that the degradation and the proletarianization of office work were disguised by the shift from male to female workers. The nineteenth-century clerk has not turned merely into a proletarian: he had turned into a woman. "One of the first books to tackle this important topic and as such admirably begins to fill the gap. . . . A critical contribution." --The Journal of American History "Lively reading. Davies' review of the impact of the typewriter proves a useful perspective for those trying to evaluate the impact of the word processor on social roles and labor markets in the 1980s." --Choice

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