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Soc Sci Res. 2014 Jul;46:23-37. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.02.001. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Not just a man's world: women's political leadership in the American labor movement.

Author information

  • The Ohio State University, United States. Electronic address: martin.1026@sociology.osu.edu.


Although women have long played an important role in working class struggles, most leadership positions in unions have been held by men. Organized labor's recent shift towards social movement unionism has lead to a sense of optimism among those pressing for more gender equality among labor's elite. Yet scholarship on gender and power in other settings, including political institutions, social movements, and formal organizations, suggests other factors may also play a role in determining women's leadership in labor unions. The current research, based on a rich dataset of 70 local unions, provides important insight into the political careers of women. Beyond an analysis of organized labor, this research has implications for understanding the interplay of gender and power in formal organizations and social movements more broadly.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Gender; Labor; Politics; Social movements

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