History of Fighting the Gender Wage Gap Part IV (9/1o)

Source: Women’s Bureau. “Our History: An Overview 1920 – 2012. Accessed December 03, 2016. Click here to read online.

The last major organization that will be discussed in this series of blog posts is the Women’s Bureau, a branch of the Department of Labor. The Women’s Bureau was designed to “formulate standards and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” Essentially, the organization’s main responsibility is assisting the working woman and supporting her issues.

Officially established in 1920, the Women’s Bureau helped in creating all of the legislation that has been discussed thus far. Because of the Bureau’s responsibility to gather statistics, they provided actual information on the issues women faced. Their first survey conducted, requested by the Governor of Indiana, James P. Goodrich, clarified statistics concerning women in the work force. Shortly after his request, 31 other states requested similar surveys. The Bureau’s early studies revolved around ‘female designated’ jobs. As the nation continued into WWII, the attention shifted to women working in industry. Though they continued to collect the same types of information, the Bureau became more interested in the changing of careers. They also gathered information on female college graduates and the types of jobs they took after graduation. This also included some small studied on the gender wage gap, as the Women’s Bureau gathered various pieces of information on working women.

Mary Anderson, first director of the Women’s Bureau,  stated, “I think our most important job was issuing the standards for the employment of women. It was the first time the federal government had taken a practical stand on conditions of employment for women, and although the standards were only recommendations and had no legal force, they were a very important statement of policy and were widely used in all parts of the country.” (For more information on her impact on the Gender Wage Gap, see Blog Post 3.)

Truthfully, the Women’s Bureau contributed to fighting the wage gap as they gathered information on the working woman. Without this information, the issue would never have received attention.Because of this national organization and their studies, fighting the gender wage gap became possible. They allowed information to be systematically gathered on the issues that women faced, giving it a name and some practical backup. The gender wage gap, as it continues today, still relies heavily upon the Women’s Bureau to gain its information.

As the analysis of the wage gap fighting history closes, it is clear that it took many people to begin closing the wage gap. It took years for the issue to gain momentum. But it took government organizations and powerful citizens to not only bring the issue to light and to fight it. The closing of the gender wage gap can be attributed to simultaneous efforts from numerous people. Truly, the history of the wage gap and those who fought against it enriches the fight that continues today.


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