Joan Acker and Doing Comparable Worth

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Joan Acker's seminal book Doing Comparable Worth, based on her first-hand experience of implementing comparable worth for Oregon state employees, constitutes a major contribution to understanding the obstacles to achieving the goal of equal pay and is a precursor of her inequalities regimes work. For Acker the foundering of the comparable worth exercise on the rocks of management's opportunistic strategy to marginalize trade unions provided a direct experience of how gender and class inequalities are simultaneously produced and reproduced. Consequently, wage setting is always political and change to wages generates widespread resistance above and beyond issues of gender inequalities. While the feminist activists may be rightly criticized for naivety in their belief in a technical solution to gender pay inequalities, their robust critiques of pay practices is sorely missing in today's renewed acceptance of a gender-neutral labour market, and more limited feminist interest in theories of pay.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Early online date22 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2018


  • Comparable worth
  • Gender pay gap
  • Pay


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