American Women Since 1945 by Rochelle Gatlin

By Rochelle Gatlin

Ebook by means of Gatlin, Rochelle

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Women's passivity, dependence and even domesticity carried over into the world of work and served the needs of employers for a cheap, docile labour force. Post-war federal policy assumed that the working head of household would be male and minimised government responsibility to guarantee women jobs. A Women's Bureau survey showed that over 80 per cent of employed women were self-supporting and/or financially responsible for members of their families. Yet Congressmen believed that women worked for unnecessary 'extras' and argued that only men had a fundamental claim to employment.

Most of the pay differential between men and women is attributable to occupational segregation, but women have earned less than men even when they have done the same or similar work. One company out of three in the early 1960s had dual pay scales for similar office jobs. In blue-collar occupations, wage discrimination was more overt. In the 1940s, the General Electric Company reduced wage rates by one-third if the job was performed by a woman; Westinghouse's female rate was 18-20 per cent lower than the male wage.

48. However, black men and women were (and still are) more likely to be unemployed than white workers. Women are also more likely to be unemployed than men. The unemployment rate for black women was slightly below that for black men in the years 1954 and 1960, but since 1965 it has been higher. White women's unemployment has remained consistently higher than white men's. And the differential in the male-female unemployment rates has been growing since 1962. The earnings gap between women and men varies by occupational sector.

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