Dr. Kirsten Swinth, Professor of History, published her article entitled “Debating the Fate of the Homemaker: The ERA and the Death of the Family Wage” in the journal of Gender & History. Congratulations Dr. Swinth!
Below is the abstract of the article:
This article revisits the campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution to argue that amendment adversaries fought over the future of women’s economic security. Post-war US economic growth stalled in the 1970s, bringing the family-wage ideal of male breadwinning and female homemaking down with it. In these unsettled years, how female economic dependence would be addressed was an open question: would it be by propping up male breadwinning, as ERA opponents wanted, or by combining good jobs with fairly compensated domestic labour and government assistance, as supporters believed the ERA promised? A revisionist interpretation of the ERA battle, this article shifts attention from conflict over gender identity and cultural values to economics and capitalist transformation. It examines arguments presented in pamphlets, the media and to Congress about how homemaking women could achieve security in the face of changing economic reality. The ERA’s defeat was a Pyrrhic victory for conservatives. The threat to government-sanctioned male breadwinning appeared to have been vanquished. But the family-wage system was truly on the rocks, and supporters’ vision of a working-family norm, with roles based on function, not gender, won out. Without the ERA, however, working mothers shouldered the consequences.