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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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A Woman's Wage, Redux

A Woman's Wage, Redux

(p.121) 6 A Woman's Wage, Redux
A Woman's Wage

Alice Kessler-Harris

University Press of Kentucky

This essay reviews the decades-long struggle for “a woman’s wage,” from the beginning of the 1900s to the early twenty-first century. While traditionally the father was the breadwinner and the mother ran the household—with state and federal legislation codifying this—social change throughout the past century, especially the last third of the twentieth century, has altered society’s views. Though women have achieved much, many challenges still exist, particularly concerning the relationship between motherhood and a career. Motherhood in the workforce is still a disadvantage to earning. The question of individual versus collective responsibility is a theme of modern politics, with no easy solution. However, the chapter ends with a plea for “a woman’s wage” to become “a social wage,” with society supporting a woman’s right to be both of the family and of the workplace.

Keywords:   breadwinner, legislation, motherhood in the workforce, social wage

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