Mothers On The Job: Maternity Policy in the U.S. Workplace

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9780813519197: Mothers On The Job: Maternity Policy in the U.S. Workplace

Women's increasing demands for protection and benefits in the workplace, especially with regard to maternity leave, have sparked more than a century of controversy among feminists on how best to serve the needs of working women. This debate continues to divide the feminist community. One side believes women are better served by emphasizing equality with men--pregnancy should be treated like any other "disability." The other side wants to recognize difference--special provisions should apply only to pregnant women. Lise Vogel examines the evolution of this debate on pregnant women in the workplace, looking at theoretical as well as practical implications.

Vogel begins by assessing the history of the contemporary debate on pregnancy policy in the U.S. Since the middle of the nineteenth-century, American women have been torn by the contradictory demands of motherhood and the workplace. Pregnancy was grounds for dismissal from work and few employers took action to protect pregnant workers. To counter this, early twentieth-century feminists and reformers emphasized female specificity and women's special role.

In the 1960s activists adopted a strategy framed on equality, which moved away from the earlier emphasis on differences. The use of equality strategies to cover the female-specific phenomenon of pregnancy turned out to have problems. Now women's special needs were denied and ignored. These difficulties and a series of court cases in the 1980s triggered debates in the feminist legal community. Vogel looks at the litigation and debates, which pitted advocates of gender-neutral strategies against critics who called for female-specific policies.

Vogel argues that, in terms of practical benefits, women will be served best by a gender-neutral approach to pregnancy policy. She encourages equality advocates to recognize the inherent diversity of individuals, and points out the need to be sensitive to individual factors of race and class, as well as sex.

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About the Author:

Lise Vogel is a professor of sociology at Rider College and the author of Marxism and the Oppression of Women (Rutgers University Press).

From Publishers Weekly:

Due to its dry, legalistic style, this comprehensive volume will be most useful to those doing research in the field of maternity benefits. Vogel ( Marxism and the Oppression of Women ) focuses on pregnancy in analyzing the arguments for and against two categories for the treatment of working women: a framework based on women's difference from men, and an equality-based framework. The first type seeks special compensation for women due to their ability to bear children, but usually these policies end up damaging their standing in the workplace as well. The equality framework basically ignores the fact that women bear children and insists that women and men be treated in the same manner. In the final chapter Vogel suggests that the solution lies somewhere between the two, with "differential consideration," an idea that already stands behind legislation regulating comparable worth and family and medical leave. In delineating her solution, Vogel also details changes in the treatment of women in this area over the last century or so in the U.S. and occasionally in Europe. Unfortunately, the discussion is based on court cases, with little social history here to round it out.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Rutgers University Press, United States, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. An impressive book.Vogel makes a wide range of perspectives on the equality/difference debate easily accessible to nonspecialists. --Ruth Milkman, UCLA, author of Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II What kinds of benefits do working mothers need? How can the ideals of equality be reconciled with the gender specificity of motherhood? Lise Vogel examines the way these questions have long constituted a dilemma both for U.S. public policy and for feminist thought. Vogel begins by assessing the background to the contemporary debates. Early twentieth-century progressives underscored women s need for special protection and sought female-specific benefits. Though few were provided and even they were extended only to white women, a maternity policy was nonetheless put in place. In the 1960s, a new kind of maternity policy, framed on equality, began to be constructed. Vogel traces the history of the shift, showing how feminists abandoned difference, and moved to demands for equal treatment. Although initiated by feminists, equal treatment could paradoxically be a pretext for a mean-spirited denial of needed benefits. Employers could claim that pregnancy leave was preferential treatment and conflicted with the principle of equality. In the 1980s, litigation over pregnancy leave triggered a debate between advocates of gender-neutral strategies and those who called for female-specific policies. In analyzing these debates, Vogel refused to choose between equality and difference. Rather, she shows that the dichotomy must be resisted in practical politics as well as at the level of theory, and she supports new policies such as family leave and comparable worth. In the furor over family values, single motherhood, diversity, and reverse discrimination, Vogel speaks with a clear and intelligent voice. She makes a powerful argument for a conception of equality that encompasses the special character of maternity. Lise Vogel teaches sociology and women s studies at Rider College and is the author of Marxism and the Oppression of Women (Rutgers University Press). Bookseller Inventory # TNP9780813519197

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Book Description Rutgers University Press, United States, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An impressive book.Vogel makes a wide range of perspectives on the equality/difference debate easily accessible to nonspecialists. --Ruth Milkman, UCLA, author of Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II What kinds of benefits do working mothers need? How can the ideals of equality be reconciled with the gender specificity of motherhood? Lise Vogel examines the way these questions have long constituted a dilemma both for U.S. public policy and for feminist thought. Vogel begins by assessing the background to the contemporary debates. Early twentieth-century progressives underscored women s need for special protection and sought female-specific benefits. Though few were provided and even they were extended only to white women, a maternity policy was nonetheless put in place. In the 1960s, a new kind of maternity policy, framed on equality, began to be constructed. Vogel traces the history of the shift, showing how feminists abandoned difference, and moved to demands for equal treatment. Although initiated by feminists, equal treatment could paradoxically be a pretext for a mean-spirited denial of needed benefits. Employers could claim that pregnancy leave was preferential treatment and conflicted with the principle of equality. In the 1980s, litigation over pregnancy leave triggered a debate between advocates of gender-neutral strategies and those who called for female-specific policies. In analyzing these debates, Vogel refused to choose between equality and difference. Rather, she shows that the dichotomy must be resisted in practical politics as well as at the level of theory, and she supports new policies such as family leave and comparable worth. In the furor over family values, single motherhood, diversity, and reverse discrimination, Vogel speaks with a clear and intelligent voice. She makes a powerful argument for a conception of equality that encompasses the special character of maternity. Lise Vogel teaches sociology and women s studies at Rider College and is the author of Marxism and the Oppression of Women (Rutgers University Press). Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780813519197

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Book Description Rutgers University Press, United States, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An impressive book.Vogel makes a wide range of perspectives on the equality/difference debate easily accessible to nonspecialists. --Ruth Milkman, UCLA, author of Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II What kinds of benefits do working mothers need? How can the ideals of equality be reconciled with the gender specificity of motherhood? Lise Vogel examines the way these questions have long constituted a dilemma both for U.S. public policy and for feminist thought. Vogel begins by assessing the background to the contemporary debates. Early twentieth-century progressives underscored women s need for special protection and sought female-specific benefits. Though few were provided and even they were extended only to white women, a maternity policy was nonetheless put in place. In the 1960s, a new kind of maternity policy, framed on equality, began to be constructed. Vogel traces the history of the shift, showing how feminists abandoned difference, and moved to demands for equal treatment. Although initiated by feminists, equal treatment could paradoxically be a pretext for a mean-spirited denial of needed benefits. Employers could claim that pregnancy leave was preferential treatment and conflicted with the principle of equality. In the 1980s, litigation over pregnancy leave triggered a debate between advocates of gender-neutral strategies and those who called for female-specific policies. In analyzing these debates, Vogel refused to choose between equality and difference. Rather, she shows that the dichotomy must be resisted in practical politics as well as at the level of theory, and she supports new policies such as family leave and comparable worth. In the furor over family values, single motherhood, diversity, and reverse discrimination, Vogel speaks with a clear and intelligent voice. She makes a powerful argument for a conception of equality that encompasses the special character of maternity. Lise Vogel teaches sociology and women s studies at Rider College and is the author of Marxism and the Oppression of Women (Rutgers University Press). Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780813519197

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