Manufacturing Inequality: Gender Division in the French and British Metalworking Industries, 1914-1939
Cornell University Press, 1995 - History - 329 pages
Manufacturing Inequality compares the complex historical process whereby metals employers in two distinct national and cultural settings first brought women into their factories and then reorganized work procedures and managerial structures to accommodate the new workforce. Drawing from an extensive range of previously untapped industrial archives, Laura Lee Downs analyzes how sexual difference was transformed from a principle for excluding women into a basis for dividing labor within the newly restructured production process. She explores the origins of wage discrimination and occupational segregation through the lens of managerial strategy, tracing the gendered redefinition of job skills, the division of the shop floor into hierarchically ordered spaces, the deployment of women welfare supervisors, and the implantation of scientific management techniques. Through its detailed comparative analysis of employers' attitudes toward women workers, Manufacturing Inequality mounts a careful critique of both neoclassical economics and feminist dual systems as frameworks for understanding gender discrimination in industry.
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