Thoughts on Comparable Worth Litigation and Organizational Strategies

To watch the evolution of Title VIP is to watch the gradual constricting of a law that many had heralded as a tool of social change for women. Its passage represented a statement that the so-called free market had not worked for women. Women were denied access to higher paying and high-status positions. Even when a job was integrated, women’s work was undervalued and their wages frequently depressed. With the passage of Title VII came the hope that the law would do what the market could not-break the cycle of discrimination.

Sex discrimination, in contrast with other forms of discrimination, seemed particularly intractable because it derived not only from overt discrimination, where the actor necessarily intended to harm women, but also from a wide range of more subtle policies, practices, and attitudes-employers who judged particular women by the average characteristics of the group, state laws that excluded women workers from certain jobs in the name of protection, and women, socialized to believe that certain jobs were appropriate for them, who excluded themselves from higher paying jobs.