In the western world, discussions about the gender pay gap have dominated discussions for the last few decades, but the issues around the economic status of women, and women’s roles in the workforce are far more nuanced, incorporating issues of race, class, consumerism, and ongoing shifts in the legal status of women in subtle and often invisible ways.
On today’s episode, we discussed the global and historical implications of women, work, and economic empowerment.
First, we welcomed Laura M. Argys and Susan L. Averett, the authors of Women in the Workforce: What Everyone Needs to Know, to share their research on women’s growing role in the workforce and the problems with definitively measuring the gender wage gap. We then interviewed, Laura Edwards, the author of Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States, looking at the 19th century legal status of textiles and how they provided a unique path to economic empowerment for women and people of color.
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To learn more about Laura Argys and Susan Averett’s work on women in the work force, please enjoy the introduction from The Oxford Handbook of Women and the Economy, which they also edited: “Women, the Economy, and Economics”.
This article—“Labor and Gender”–from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies provides a broader global perspective on women in the global economy.
Through the end of June, you can read the introduction to Laura Edward’s Only the Clothes on Her Back, which tells the stories of Elizabeth Billings and an enslaved women, Caty, and how their rights to the clothes they wore provided them a narrow claim to property.
For further context on women’s economic status in 17th and 18th Century America, please enjoy this article from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, “Women in Early American Economy”.
Featured image: Couturières bretonnes ou Atelier de couture (1854) by Jean-Baptiste Jules Trayer. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.