Alan Bernstein of Circulation Services shares today’s review:
My first real job after serving in the army began in 1966, when I started working for a small privately-owned bank. One of its policies was that no female employee could earn more than $125 per week. However, if such an employee could convince the bank’s president that she needed more money, he would personally pay for it out of his own pocket. I am also old enough to remember when The New York Times and other newspapers segregated their help-wanted ads by sex. I also did not know of any female lawyers, doctors, accountants, veterinarians, ministers, rabbis, astronauts, diplomats, or television anchors. I did know of female teachers, nurses, librarians, secretaries, and shop girls.
Why and how all this changed is the subject of Gail Collins’ illuminating, fascinating, and interesting social and gender history When Everything Changed. Successfully integrating individual life stories and anecdotes of women of all ages from all parts of the country and from all social, economic, and educational strata within the broader context of our nation’s laws, traditions, and customs, Collins has written a lively history of the changes in American society over the past 50 years that have literally affected directly or indirectly half of this nation’s population.
All of the highlights are discussed: the impact of the Civil Rights movement; the birth of the Women’s Movement; the decline of the Double Standard; the flowering of Women’s Liberation; the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was amended to include women in the groups who would be protected from job discrimination; the passage of Title IX in 1972, which banned sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds and was interpreted in 1974 to require schools to give women students comparable athletic opportunities to men; the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment; the abortion and birth control wars; the increased numbers and visibility of women politicians as state and federal legislators and credible candidates for the highest political positions; female Supreme Court justices; and the realization that even for the most high-powered, successful, and liberated women, life is still a juggling act between the demands of career and home. All of the important people are here also: those early suffragette and Civil Rights pioneers, such as Alice Paul and Ella Baker, who lived into the 1960s and beyond; Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Phyllis Schlafly, and those who benefited, such as Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin.
In short, this book will help those of a certain age to relive a tumultuous and exciting time in the American experience and those who are much younger to realize what their mothers and grandmothers faced and how they responded to an inequitable situation.
Check the WRL catalog for When Everything Changed.