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Title:A pregnancy test: women workers and the hybrid American welfare state, 1940-1993
Author(s):Fairbanks, Ruth L.
Director of Research:Pleck, Elizabeth
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pleck, Elizabeth
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Barrett, James; Boris, Eileen; Reagan, Leslie
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):pregnancy discrimination
Maternity leave
maternity benefits
health insurance
working mothers
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Cold War
Emergency Maternity and Infant Care (EMIC)
Red Scare
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
parental leave
welfare state
fringe benefits
Martha May Eliot
Mildred Fairchild
Coal Employment Project
Charlotte Silverman
International Labour Organization
Maternity Convention
Rhode Island Cash Sickness Compensation
work-family balance
Ruth Weyand
Ruth Young
Donna Lenhoff
Young v. UPS
LaFleur v. Cleveland Board of Education
Cohen v. Chesterfield County School Board
Gilbert v. GE
Geduldig v. Aiello
Turner v. Department of Employment Security of Utah
Patricia Schroeder
California Savings and Loan v. Guerra
Abstract:This dissertation shows that the US developed the outlines of a maternity policy at least by WWII. Rarely were the needs of pregnant workers or new mothers at the top of social policy initiatives. However, when European countries were developing their plans, reformers and bureaucrats sought to establish similar plans in the United States and, for a while, seemed like they might. Politics intervened in the form of the Cold War. With a few state level exceptions, the experiences of WWII were largely dismantled in the wake of political changes, business and medical opposition and the Red Scare. Subsequent policies that emerged grew largely in the private sector where women’s disadvantages in the workforce constrained maternity in the blossoming system of employee fringe benefits. Where they could, unions defended women’s access to contractual benefits, but this effort was hampered by the marginalization of maternity in the private system. Finally, with the emergence of a rights framework in the 1970s, feminist lawyers forced the inclusion of pregnancy into the central operating welfare state of private workforce relationships and benefits, leading to the current national maternity policy. However, conservatism and globalization limited this approach and indicate the necessity of public social supports for maternity, or family, benefits.
Issue Date:2015-12-03
Rights Information:copyright 2015 Ruth L. Fairbanks
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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