s1243 - Gendering and Re-gendering Market Actors, 1870-1950 (BHC-Sponsored Panel)

Friday, June 2, 2017: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
RSVLT 101 (Hofstra University)
Pamela Walker Laird, University of Colorado Denver
From Racy to Sexy: Waiting Tables in the Early Twentieth Century
Daniel Levinson Wilk, Fashion Institute of Technology

Session Abstract

Whether we understand capitalism as a cultural system, a mode of production, or as a world system, gender has been at the heart of its historical development.  Adopting a global perspective on the well-known phenomenon of “the feminization of labor,” this panel hopes to generate a comparative perspective on the ways women have intervened in the evolution of capitalist cultures and technologies. Through case studies of the entertainment, service, and financial industries, the panel takes the discussion of feminization forward, moving beyond an analysis of labor markets to examine how managers, producers, government policies, and consumers deployed and contested gender relations as they shifted the locus of power.

 Our panelists, including economists and historians, excavate financial records, trade journals, and popular culture to analyze qualitative and quantitative dimensions of gendered power. Aiala Levy reveals how industrialization re-gendered Sao Paulo, Brazil’s theatre production at the turn of the twentieth century in complex ways, confining women to performing onscreen in the cinema, shutting them out of touring actress-impresario roles on stage.  In a study of changing ideas of service in restaurants and hotels in the early twentieth century United States, Daniel Levinson Wilk shows how both economic and cultural factors closed doors for black and Irish men while opening them for white women.   In the British financial services industry, Bernado Bátiz-Lazo and Mark Crowley document automation expanding women’s employment opportunities, but argue that managers and government employment policies perpetuated inequalities in the way they defined “value” within the newly automated banking system.

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