Sadie T. M. Alexander: Black Women and a "Taste of Freedom in the Economic World"
AbstractThe employment history of African American women is notable because of their higher labor force participation rates compared to other women in the US. This essay discusses Sadie T. M. Alexander's analysis of Black women and work based on her 1930s speeches and writings. Alexander assessed Black women workers' contribution to Black American living standards and national output. A proponent of women's gainful employment and economic independence, Alexander's views on the benefits of industrial employment for women and family life stood in stark contrast to White social welfare reformers who discouraged maternal employment in favor of households with male breadwinners. Alexander criticized the unequal treatment of Black and White women under protective labor law, particularly with respect to domestic servants' exclusion from New Deal minimum wage and maximum hour protections. The legacy of discriminatory policies continues to affect the economic status of African American women today through racial disparities in social welfare provisions and worker benefits.
CitationBanks, Nina. 2022. "Sadie T. M. Alexander: Black Women and a "Taste of Freedom in the Economic World"." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 36 (4): 205-20. DOI: 10.1257/jep.36.4.205
- B31 History of Economic Thought: Individuals
- I38 Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
- J15 Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
- J16 Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
- J22 Time Allocation and Labor Supply
- K31 Labor Law
- N32 Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: U.S.; Canada: 1913-