In this scholarly tour de force, Ruth Milkman brings together four decades of sociological research on women workers to paint a portrait of gendered labor patterns from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of 2007–9. With meticulous research, careful argumentation, and effective writing, Milkman shows how economic actors—especially women workers, unions, and employers—shaped women’s employment and key industries of the US economy. As they managed changes in the labor and job markets, these actors both maintained strict job segregation by gender and transformed it, with implications for the dynamism and rigidity of gender roles in society more widely.

This collection of previously published pieces is most in conversation with foundational theories in political economy (especially Marxist theories of class), socialist feminism, and sociological theories of organization. In the book’s introduction, Milkman concedes that these bodies of thought...

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