From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Gillian Thomas
Because of sex: one law, ten cases, and fifty years that changed American women’s lives at work by Gillian Thomas was an informative, engaging, eye-opener of a book. The author discusses Title VII and its many reincarnations and its many reinterpretations by the Supreme Court. The cases discussed focused on issues of sex discrimination in its varied forms. The cases explored in the book ranged from barring a woman from applying for a position because of preschool age children to forcing women to choose between pregnancy and sterilization to keep a higher-paying job. The legal system is glacially slow in crediting women with the desire to work, viewing women’s primary function as caregivers. Sexual harassment was a term coined fairly recently and the people who brought it into popular vernacular debated between many terms before deciding this was the correct term. The book also discussed the double standard being applied when rating a woman’s job performance; if she is aggressive and committed to her position it is viewed as unwomanly and if she is feminine and caring, she is too weak to be promoted — a double-edged sword in that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I found it to be a stellar read on a thorny legal issue – clear, concise, and thought-provoking.