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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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The Double Meaning of Equal Pay

The Double Meaning of Equal Pay

(p.75) 4 The Double Meaning of Equal Pay
A Woman's Wage

Alice Kessler-Harris

University Press of Kentucky

The Equal Pay Bill of 1963, once passed, prohibited employers from paying women lower wages than men, but with several exceptions. The bill was supported by the slogan developed decades earlier, “equal pay for equal work.” This slogan was two-sided: it represented both the feminists striving for true equality in the labor force as well as those men and women who were worried that women’s cheaper labor was displacing men. It was this duality, if not ambiguity, that allowed the bill to pass successfully. The Women’s Bureau, established in 1929, was a major proponent for the bill. The bill’s supporters called for society and businesses to see a woman’s identity as individual, rather than strictly as part of a family. The rhetoric invoked by proponents and opponents of the bill finally introduced a broad discussion on gendered wages.

Keywords:   1963 Equal Pay Bill, equal pay for equal work, Women’s Bureau, patriotic rhetoric

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