Tag Archives: segregation

Documenting Desegregation

Over the last few months, in various parts of the country, several scholars have been invited to critique and discuss fellow OOW members Kevin Stainback and Don Tomaskovic-Devey’s new book, Documenting Desegregation: Racial and Gender Segregation in Private-Sector Employment Since the Civil Rights Act. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2012. 

This panel brings together a few of these scholars’ voices in an attempt to kick start a conversation about occupational sex and race segregation and, in many cases to move forward with more research. 

You will want to read OOW member and Work in Progress blog editorial board member Steve Vallas’ summary below.

The book is the first major study use EEO-1 data to examine the nature and consequences of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (CRA) over time. The book is painstaking in its use of data, but also careful and creative in its application of theory (largely, social closure theory). Major findings emerge in the book, some of which confirm existing assumptions about corporate policy, and others that are highly counter-intuitive. The book has generated much debate in the few months since its publication, and seems destined to provide a touchstone in this field now and for the foreseeable future.

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I’d like to focus on two issues that are not addressed in-depth in this otherwise wonderful book.  First, the book overlooks the importance of the substantive legal doctrine that emerged between 1966 and the 1980s.  Title VII says that employers may not “discriminate against any individual with respect to . . . employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”  But what exactly does it mean to “discriminate . . . because of”?  Over time, the courts converged on the view that the employer must have been consciously motivated by the relevant characteristic at the time of making the adverse employment decision.  Under this definition, only a very narrow range of behavior gives rise to legal liability.

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