Women of Color in U.S. Society

Maxine Baca Zinn, and Bonnie Thorton Dill
Book Cover

PB: $36.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-106-1
Publication: Dec 93

HC: $71.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-105-4
Publication: Dec 93

Ebook: $36.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0154-0

360 pages
6 x 9
25 tables

Women of color articulate shared experiences of subordination and survival

Read Chapter 1 (pdf).


The theme of race, class, and gender as interlocking systems of oppression unites these original essays about the experience of women of color—African Americans, Latinas, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. The contributing scholars discuss the social conditions that simultaneously oppress women of color and provide sites for opposition.

Though diverse in their focus, the essays uncover similar experiences in the classroom, workplace, family, prison, and other settings. Working-class women, poor women, and professional women alike experience subordination, restricted participation in social institutions, and structural placement in roles with limited opportunities.

How do women survive, resist, and cope with these oppressive structures? Many articles tell how women of color draw upon resources from their culture, family, kin, and community. Others document defenses against cultural assaults by the dominant society—Native American mothers instilling tribal heritage in their children; African American women engaging in community work; and Asian American women opposing the patriarchy of their own communities and the stereotypes imposed by society at large.

These essays challenge some of our basic assumptions about society, revealing that experiences of inequality are not only diverse but relational.


"This far-ranging and well-documented book explores race, class and gender as systems of oppression against women of color in the United States....(A)n important addition to the literature of women's studies." Publishers Weekly

"(T)his collection should be welcomed by all those concerned with issues of race, gender, and class in American society. It presents a wealth of information, data, and analysis in direct, refreshingly jargon-free language, and would make an excellent text for undergraduate courses in sociology, women's studies, and ethnic studies." Contemporary Sociology

"This book will be extremely important in the growing literature that examines the intersections of race, class, and gender stratification.... The list of contributors includes some of the most significant writers working in this field." Margaret L. Anderson, University of Delaware

"A volume like this is badly needed in women's studies and ethnic studies because the emphasis...has been on...white women and racial-ethnic men, respectively. The book's greatest importance lies in its political significance. It has the potential of forcing modification of many assumptions on which contemporary feminism is based. And the more such theories emanate from and are applicable to the lives of diverse American women, the ore profound and useful they will be." Judith Rollins, Simmons College

Table of Contents

Foreword – Patricia Hill Collins

Part I: Introduction
1. Difference and Domination – Maxine Baca Zinn and Bonnie Thornton Dill
2. Women of Color: A Demographic Overview – Vilma Ortiz

Part II: The Constraining Walls of Social Location
3. Helpers, Enforcers, and Go-Betweens: Black Females in Elementary School Classrooms – Linda Grant
4. Hiring Immigrant Women: Silicon Valley’s "Simple Formula" – Karen J. Hossfeld
5. Inside the Work Worlds of Chicana and Mexican Immigrant Women – Denise A. Segura
6. Black Professional Women: Job Ceilings and Employment Sectors – Elizabeth Higginbotham
7. Puerto Rican Families and Social Well-Being – Ruth E. Zambrana

Part III: Social Agency: Confronting the "Walls"
8. Fictive Kin, Paper Sons, and Compadrazgo: Women of Color and the Struggle for Family Survival – Bonnie Thornton Dill
9. Black Women in Prison: The Price of Resistance – Regina Arnold
10. Cultural Survival and Contemporary American Indian Women in the City – Jennie R. Joe and Dorothy Lonewolf Miller
11. Asian American Women at Work – Esther Ngan-Ling Chow
12. "If It Wasn’t for the Women...": African American Women, Community Work, and Social Change – Cheryl Townsend Gilkes
13. Migration and Vietnamese American Women: Remaking Ethnicity – Nazli Kibria

Part IV: Rethinking Gender
14. Images, Ideology, and Women of Color – Leith Mullings
15. Different Voices, Different Visions: Gender, Culture, and Moral Reasoning – Carol B. Stack
16. Feminist Rethinking from Racial-Ethnic Families – Maxine Baca Zinn

About the Contributors

About the Author(s)

Maxine Baca Zinn is Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University.

Bonnie Thornton Dill is Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Maryland.


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.