Doing Comparable Worth

Gender, Class, and Pay Equity

Joan Acker
Jessie Bernard Prize of the American Sociological Association for Life Achievement, 1989
Book Cover

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0572-2

272 pages
6 x 9

The study of a large comparable worth project and of how gender and class dynamics influenced its outcome


Doing Comparable Worth is the first empirical study of the actual process of attempting to translate into reality the idea of equal pay for work of equal value. This political ethnography documents a large project undertaken by the state of Oregon to evaluate 35,000 jobs of state employees, identify gender-based pay inequities, and remedy these inequities. The book details both the technical and political processes, showing how the technical was always political, how management manipulated and unions resisted wage redistribution, and how initial defeat was turned into partial victory for pay equity by labor union women and women's movement activists.

As a member of the legislative task force that was responsible for implementing the legislation requiring a pay equity study in Oregon, Joan Acker gives an insider's view of how job evaluation, job classification, and the formulation of an equity plan were carried out. She reveals many of the political and technical problems in doing comparable worth that are not evident to outsiders. She also places comparable worth within a feminist theoretical perspective.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Competing Interests, Multiple Goals 3. Reproducing Hierarchy—or Job Evaluation in Oregon 4. True Comparable Worth: The Technical as Political 5. From True Comparable Worth to Poverty Relief 6. Doing Comparable Worth: Theorizing Gender and Class Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author(s)

Joan Acker is Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon and winner of the 1989 Jessie Bernard Prize of the American Sociologial Association for life achievement.


In the Series

  • Women in the Political Economy edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg

    No longer active. Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg, includes books on women and issues of work, family, social movements, politics, feminism, and empowerment. It emphasizes women's roles in society and the social construction of gender and also explores current policy issues like comparable worth, international development, job training, and parental leave.