Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

September 2005


Throughout American history, male/female has defined an enduring binary embodied in access to jobs, income, and wealth.Women’s economic history shows how for centuries sex has inscribed a durable inequality into the structure of American labor markets that civil and political rights have moderated but not removed. This economic experience of women reflects the paradox of inequality in America: the coexistence of structural inequality with individual and group mobility.Women, like African Americans, have gained what T.H. Marshall labeled civil and political citizenship. No longer are they legally disenfranchised, and discrimination on account of race and gender is against the law. They have also increased their social citizenship, as represented by access to jobs and education, and women, in particular, benefit from many programs of the welfare state. Yet, they remain unequal. On the whole, they earn less than men, end up in occupational ghettos, bump up against glass ceilings, and find themselves, in relation to men, as poor as ever.


Permission granted by George Mason University Press. Reprinted from Journal of Social History, Volume 39, Issue 2, 2005, pages 65-88.
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Date Posted: 05 January 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.