Latinas and African American Women: Race, Gender, and Economic Inequality, 1st Ed.

Latinas and African American Women: Race, Gender, and Economic Inequality, 1st Ed.

Emerson, Sarah

Latinas and African American Women: Race, Gender, and Economic Inequality, 1st Ed.

by Irene Browne, Editor (1999).

New York, NY., Russell Sage Foundation; 441 pages.

Readers will find this volume useful for a variety of reasons. The manner in which it is organized promotes understanding of the “problems” associated with the conclusions often reached from the study of social inequities. Problems associated with current research findings and policy recommendations are illustrated. Two of these significant problems revolve around the fact that much of the research on employment patterns is done on white males. The other problem involves the need to study subgroups of women and female labor market dynamics rather than simply groups of women.

The first section of the book consists of five chapters that discuss employment opportunities in relation to changing job markets and wages earned. One of the authors makes it quite clear that differences in men’s and women’s employability are distinct. Jobs continue to be segregated by sex, and the women are primarily responsible for raising children. Another difference cited is that resources and options available to women are different in various subgroups.

The second part of the text consists of studies that examine the dynamics of race and gender in the labor market. The multidimensional aspects of employment and employability are outlined. One qualitative study of three cohorts of Puerto Rican women in New York demonstrated that elements such as a changing labor market, country of birth, marital status, and historical development are important items for consideration. Another study about movement to and from welfare participation combined quantitative and qualitative methods. That study found that there are differences in the processes African American and white women utilize in moving off welfare rolls. The type of jobs available dif fer, as do the resources for both groups women. The metaphor of walking a tightrope helps to focus the reader’s attention on the factors that contribute to the absence of “safety nets” for Latina and African American women. Other studies in the middle section deal with types of discrimination, differences in perceptions about skills and opportunities, and stereotyping.

The three chapters at the conclusion of the book emphasize the need for changes in the way research is conducted about employability and labor markets. The point is clearly made that social stratifications and inequalities cannot be understood through studies that avoid looking at subgroups of women and examining experiences in terms of resources and social supports. In addition it is shown that understanding the changes and differences in labor markets brings more clarity to distinguishing how people remain employed.

The text is an important one for those who are interested in constructing meaningful models for studying the multidimensionality of women and work and for those who recognize the need to develop policy that is not discriminatory. Some of the needs to be addressed are access to education; minimum wage laws; segregation by race, residence and sex; access to health care; and flexibility in scheduling work hours. This volume also possesses a wide range of utility for academia particularly in schools of business and those divisions that prepare professionals to work in the health and human services. There are repeated reminders throughout the text that inform the reader that quantitative study alone cannot provide adequate information for decisions about policy development.

Reviewed by Sarah Emerson, EdD, RN, Professor, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana; Essie A. Riley-Eddins, PhD, RN, SM and Founding Editor, Journal of Multicultural Nursing & Health.

Copyright Riley Publications, Inc. Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Health Winter 2000

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved