Alice Kessler-Harris’ In Pursuit of Equity’

This paper reviews the book, “In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America” by the social historian Alice Kessler-Harris.

This paper discusses that women’s citizenship is more than political rights and includes how women are treated at work. The paper points out that from the beginning of America, economic success and the right to work has been linked with full participation in the American political process. The paper continues that current law still reflects certain anti-female laboring biases.
The need for organized, well-paid male work was thus presented as validating a necessary social norm, the ability of a man to be the head of his own household, and to control the purse strings of the home. Male dominion of the family was crucial to the social order of the land, thus making well-paid male labor an economic necessity. This did not mean, of course, that women did not work when necessary. However, even when women did work extremely hard, such labor was viewed as subsidiary to male labor and male economic sustenance of the household.