Louise Tilly and Joan ScottEdit

Louise Tilly is Michael E. Gellert Professor of History and Sociology at the New School for Social Research. She carries a bachelor's degree in history from Rutgers University (1952), an MA from Boston University in 1955, and a Ph.D at the University of Toronto in 1974.

The text is both comparative and interdisciplinary, relying on the social science research of economists,
anthropologists, and demographers. To know the significance of women's work in any historical period, one must understand modes of production, family structures, and demography.

Sometimes missing in the text is the avoidance of a forthright discussion of patriarchy, as the responsibilities of their domestic duties rendered ideologically biological what is, in essence, an economic shift in the place of production. Domestic labor is not overly analyzed, and there is not much focus on how this labor freed the time for industrial laborers to leave the home. Issues of "wife as property" (the legal reality of many women) never becomes part of the conversation in a discussion of labor and family (even if they authors wanted to refute the notion). The history essentially reducts female employment to their positions in their families; thus, they are wives and mothers first, and workers second. They vagueness of the book (due to both breadth and method) might be read against the amazingly rich images of female activity offer in later texts in the 1980s and 1990s (for example, Cheap Amusements). For example, can women's roles in work be reduced to questions of family priorities (they seem to place the economics as a more distributive factor than gender)? Is their a way in which women understood themselves as workers? One reviewer doubted the historical accuracy of the book, writing:

"Nor do the authors document their claim that the early twentieth century growth in women's white collar work did not increase total female employment: "It simply represented a shift of women workers from one type of job to another" (151). Ultimately, the reviewer concludes, "But certainly it fails "to set straight the historical record on women's work. . . ." (8). That would require that Professors Tilly and Scott study precisely what they chose not to consider: the experiences of working women outside the family setting and the connections among women's work, status, and consciousness." <Review written by Sheila Lichtman, UC-Davis, written in Labor History, January 1, 1982.