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Documenting Desegregation

Racial and Gender Segregation in Private Sector Employment Since the Civil Rights Act

Documenting Desegregation: Racial and Gender Segregation in Private Sector Employment Since the Civil Rights Act

Publication Year: 2012

Enacted nearly 50 years ago, the Civil Rights Act codified a new vision for American society by formally ending segregation and banning race and gender discrimination in the workplace. But how much change did the legislation actually produce? As employers responded to the law, did new and more subtle forms of inequality emerge in the workplace? In an insightful analysis that combines history with a rigorous empirical analysis of newly available data, Equal Opportunity at Work? offers the most comprehensive account to date of what has happened to equal opportunity in America—and what more needs to be done in order to achieve a truly integrated workforce. Weaving strands of history, cognitive psychology, and demography, Equal Opportunity at Work? provides a compelling exploration of the ways legislation can affect employer behavior and produce change. Authors Kevin Stainback and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey use a remarkable historical record—data from more than six million workplaces collected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) since 1966—to present a sobering portrait of race and gender in the American workplace. Progress has been decidedly uneven: black men, black women, and white women have prospered in firms that rely on educational credentials when hiring, though white women have advanced more quickly. And white men have hardly fallen behind—they now hold more managerial positions than they did in 1964. The authors argue that the Civil Rights Act’s equal opportunity clauses have been most effective when accompanied by social movements demanding changes. EEOC data show that African-American men made rapid gains in the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement. Similarly, white women gained access to more professional and managerial jobs in the 1970s as regulators and policymakers began to enact and enforce gender discrimination laws. By the 1980s, however, racial desegregation had stalled, reflecting the dimmed status of the civil rights agenda. Race and gender employment segregation remain high today, and alarmingly, many firms, particularly in high-wage industries, seem to be moving in the wrong direction and have shown signs of resegregating since the 1980s. To counter this worrying trend, the authors propose new methods to increase diversity by changing industry norms, holding human resources managers to account, and exerting renewed government pressure on large corporations to make equal employment opportunity a national priority. At a time of high unemployment and rising inequality, Equal Opportunity at Work? provides an incisive reexamination of America’s tortured pursuit of equal employment opportunity. This important new book will be an indispensable guide for those seeking to understand where America stands in fulfilling its promise of a workplace free from discrimination.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

half title, title page, copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-6

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. vii-xvi

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About the Authors

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pp. xvii-xviii

...Kevin Stainback is associate professor of sociology at Purdue University. Donald Tomaskovic-Devey is professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst...

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pp. xix-xx

...both understanding the value of the EEO-1 data as a research tool and figuring out how to gain access to them. At the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Ronald Edwards and Bliss Cartwright have been consistently supportive of our inquiries about the data and production of research. For the last ten years or so, the EEOC has allowed restricted...

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pp. xxi-xxxiv

...the Civil Rights Act. Although it was not the first or the last legislative moment of the civil rights movement, it was a pivotal one. The act outlawed segregation and discrimination by race, ethnicity, and religion in public education, public accommodations, voting, and federal assistance. Title...

Part I. National Equal Opportunity Politics

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pp. 1-2

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Chapter 1. Documenting Desegregation

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pp. 3-49

...status-based employment discrimination. Its passage has been praised as one of the central moments in the extension of social, economic, and political rights to all adult citizens in the United States. Ironically, it also stands, historically, as one of the U.S. government’s most controversial...

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Chapter 2. Hyper-Segregation in the Pre–Civil Rights Period

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pp. 50-83

...segregation was deeply institutionalized in U.S. workplaces. During this historical moment, people in the United States understood that white men would occupy the most desirable jobs and hold authority over other groups. It was also assumed that women of all races and nonwhites of all...

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Chapter 3. The Era of Uncertainty, 1966 to 1972

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pp. 84-117

...segregation as a reaction to the civil rights movement, the passage of fair employment practice laws in many northern and western states, and President Kennedy’s 1961 executive order admonishing federal contractors take affirmative action in the hiring of African Americans. We now examine...

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Chapter 4. The Short Regulatory Decade, 1972 to 1980

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pp. 118-154

...became much more clearly defined and active. The women’s movement emerged as a powerful political force. In response, Congress and the courts made clear that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibited “sex”- based discrimination and segregation in employment. Companies now...

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Chapter 5. Desegregation in the Neoliberal Era, 1980 to 2005

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pp. 155-178

...changed again; the EEOC and OFCCP were instructed to back off their enforcement mission, and whatever proactive commitment to equal opportunity that had once emanated from the executive branch ceased. While Reagan was blocked by a Democratic Congress from completely...

Part II. Local Inequality Regimes

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pp. 179-180

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Chapter 6. Local Labor Market Competition and New Status Hierarchies

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pp. 181-210

...dramatically by both demographic status and historical period. In this chapter, we document regional convergences in the patterns of segregation and access to good-quality jobs. When the civil rights movement was at its peak, it represented in part a struggle between the South and the rest of...

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Chapter 7. Sector and Industry Segregation Trajectories

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pp. 211-249

...services, with distinct mixes of technology, divisions of labor, and market structure. In this chapter, we investigate the distribution of desegregation patterns across sectors of the economy and in different industries. Largescale shifts in the nature of production are reflected in the sectors of the...

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Chapter 8. Contemporary Workplace Dynamics

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pp. 250-292

...environments on workplace equal employment opportunity trajectories. In most approaches to organizational dynamics, it is such environmental factors that motivate firms to adjust their behavior. Capitalism, for example, is a dynamic economic system. That dynamism is thought to arise...

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Chapter 9. National to Local Segregation Trajectories

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pp. 293-322

...action produces local stories and understandings that over time accumulate into behaviors, trajectories of social change, or periods of equilibrium. These narratives are both material, embodied in practices, relationships, organizations, and the like, and cultural, retold as stories of what is natural...

Methodological Appendix

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pp. 323-338


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pp. 339-344


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pp. 345-362


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pp. 363-378

E-ISBN-13: 9781610447881
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871548344

Page Count: 412
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Discrimination in employment -- United States.
  • Sex discrimination in employment -- United States
  • African Americans -- Employment.
  • Minorities -- Employment -- United States.
  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1945-.
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