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A Woman's WageHistorical Meanings and Social Consequences$
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Alice Kessler-Harris

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813145136

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813145136.001.0001

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An Exploration of Gender Ideology in the 1930s

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A Woman's Wage

Alice Kessler-Harris

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter discusses gender ideology in the 1930s, specifically during the Great Depression. The common thought was that work and the home were “separate spheres,” but this chapter argues that the reality was much more complex. The Depression serves as a case study for the interweaving of home and work needs, analyzing individual versus group/societal desires and the change in the expectations workers had of their professional roles. Public and private spheres increasingly overlapped, and even women, competing with one another for jobs, protested the social cost. The chapter ends by claiming that separate spheres were not separate, though gender was an element of the complex web of the wage discussion.

Keywords:   gender ideology, 1930s, separate spheres, domestic sphere, Great Depression, public and private spheres, free market

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