Wage Disparity, Discrimination, and Comparable Worth in the American Job Market of the 1980's

Dublin Core


Wage Disparity, Discrimination, and Comparable Worth in the American Job Market of the 1980's


Gribbin, Daniel J.




New York Institute of Technology


Pay equity--United States
Wages--Women--United States






Thesis (M.S.)--New York Institute of Technology

Thesis Item Type Metadata


School of Management


Department of Labor and Industrial Relations


Women's dismal employment picture did not arise in a vacuum. Rather, women's separate and unequal status in the work force is the inevitable product of a social structure which traditionally has excluded them from all instrumental roles in political and economic ·life, and a legal system which has maintained and legitimated this exclusion l::Yj relegating v.0men to the legal status of little more than a domestic appendage to their husbands.
The ideology underlying the legal and societal restrictions on women’s work is a familiar one: that women have a "natural" role in 'life, that of wife and mother, and that they should not venture outside of their "sphere," and indeed are not capable of doing so. When women did begin to work outside the home, the occupations open to them were for the roost part those perceived as coincidental with their "motherly" nature. The law, accepting this view of women's proper role and thereby legitimating it, has upheld a wide range of restrictions on women's employment status on this basis, resulting in the occupational segregation and depressed wages that are today's legacy.
In the nineteenth century, as factory jobs and some educational opportunities began to open up to them, women increasingly worked outside the home. However, most available jobs involved work that was an extension of housework (in laundries, canneries, textile and clothing industries), and paid barely subsistence wages. The justification for low wages for women’s work was the myth that women’s employment was only temporary because they would soon get married, revert to their "true" vocation, and be supported by their husbands. Indeed myth often became reality, since women, forced to -work for such low wages, had no choice but to find support elsewhere.
Since, based on this justification, women could be paid less than men, certain jobs were "reserved" for Women were excluded by prevailing practice and by law from pursuing vocations other than the limited, relatively low-paid ones acceptable for them. Women were almost universally barred from the professions.
The history of women’s employment, indeed, of the social, political, and economic status of women, reflects a widespread exclusion of women from many employment opportunities and the depression of wages in those jobs that have been available to women. These restrictions, and the concomitant undervaluing of women's work, are based on and justified by a complex of stereotypical and false views about women's appropriate role in society, views which have been adopted and legitimated by the law.





Gribbin, Daniel J., “Wage Disparity, Discrimination, and Comparable Worth in the American Job Market of the 1980's,” Institutional Repository, accessed June 30, 2022, http://repository.nyitlibrary.org/items/show/2710.