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Gender as More Than a Dummy Variable: Feminist Approaches to Discrimination

Deborah Figart

Review of Social Economy, 1997, vol. 55, issue 1, 1-32

Abstract: To avow that gender is more than an independent--or dummy--variable is to posit the centrality of gender (as well as race and class) in economic analysis. Conventional economic methods tend to neglect the process by which gender interacts with and shapes other social forces and institutions. The basis for a feminist alternative is the assertion that the social construction of gender permeates men's and women's labor market experiences. A feminist definition of discrimination is proposed which emphasizes process as well as outcomes; measurable as well as unquantifiable repercussions. Labor market discrimmation is a multidimensional interaction of economic, social, political, and cultural forces in both the workplace and the family, resulting in differential outcomes involving pay, employment, and status. Several propositions toward developing feminist approaches to labor market discrimination are illustrated with examples of feminist research. These propositions delineate feminist work on: the importance of praxis-based research; the necessity for methodological pluralism; the role of power in wage-setting within the firm; the impact of macro-social institutions; and the intersections of gender, race, class, and other social forces.

Keywords: discrimination; gender; labor markets; method; feminist theory; wages; employment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1997
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DOI: 10.1080/00346769700000022

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