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On Gender, Labor, and Inequality$
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Ruth Milkman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040320

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040320.001.0001

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Women’s History and the Sears Case

Women’s History and the Sears Case

Chapter:
(p.139) Chapter 5 Women’s History and the Sears Case
Source:
On Gender, Labor, and Inequality
Author(s):

Ruth Milkman

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040320.003.0005

This chapter explores the dynamics of job segregation by gender as well as the social and cultural construction of boundaries between “male” and “female” work in the retail sector. More specifically, it analyzes the role of employers and their hiring policies in shaping the sexual division of paid labor by focusing on the controversy stemming from the legal battle between Sears Roebuck & Co. and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After discussing the political context of the EEOC's class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Sears, the chapter considers the historical evidence presented by both parties through the expert testimonies of two historians: Rosalind Rosenberg for Sears and Alice Kessler-Harris for the EEOC. It examines how women's history and the issue of difference figured in Sears's defense, along with the EEOC's argument that Sears's policies systematically excluded women from its most highly paid sales jobs.

Keywords:   job segregation, retail sector, employers, hiring policies, Sears Roebuck & Co, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sex-discrimination lawsuit, Rosalind Rosenberg, Alice Kessler-Harris, women's history

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