Essay Sample: Kessler-Harris and Joan Scott's Contribution to Gender Studies

Published: 2022-06-17
Essay Sample: Kessler-Harris and Joan Scott's Contribution to Gender Studies
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Gender Feminism
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 891 words
8 min read

Kessler-Harris through her article Just Price, Free Market and the Value of Women together with Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis by Joan Scott, have notably commented, transformed and shaped the studies of gender for many decades. An analysis of the articles shows the growth of history of women and the impact of gender and feminist concepts on history. In historical concepts, gender has offered a leeway of accepting and expressing differences. This essay analyzes the works of Scott and Kessler-Harris and how they contribute to gender studies.

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Equality of Women and Men According to Scott and Kessler-Harris

According to Kessler-Harris, in the employment sector, the difference in gender offers the fundamental of struggling. "Strenuous and industrious jobs are related to high pay with men dominating the labour force while women are perceived to engage in easy careers which equals to less pay" (Kessler-Harris 248). Consequently, men tend to be paid more since they are perceived to be responsible for the family's welfare thus women get minimal wages for same work done. She uses comparable worth to illustrate how the fight for women to redefine notions such as power, liberty, and justice replicates an image of the future (Kessler-Harris 238).

According to Scott, sexual relations are described as social and explains why the society is male-dominated thus there is inequality between men and women."As historian's search for approaches in which the gender concept constructs and legitimizes social relationships, they generate insights into the reciprocal nature of society and gender and the contextual and specific manners whereby gender creates politics and politics constructs gender" (Scott 1070). The laws of social interactions are innately gendered, for women inevitably have an unalike affiliation to the phallus than men. The society has ground rules on responsibilities attributed to men and women. Most of the official positions are related to men, as women are perceived as juniors who get mistreated in favor of men.

Gender as a Useful Category of Historical Analysis

Women's history, reminiscent of its egalitarianism positioning and origin, appears less attractive compared to gender history. Kessler-Harris' article fights for the history of gender and women whereby, women's history involves the field that is yet to be dug, as gender encompasses the interpersonal category. Kessler-Harris and Scott, through their articles, are undeniably conspicuous among revolutionary women historians in creating paradigms and models adequately malleable to be modified outside a national setting. This flexibility displays them as beneficial representations for inscribing gender and women's history within American including the U.S, Mexico, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Perspectives of Different Historians on Gender

Kessler-Harris believes that "the course of gender seems to offer a clear demonstration of how culture can impact class relations" (Kessler-Harris 235). Gender contributes to the creation of a class by laying normative principles for desired aspirations, education, and behavior in a manner that inspires values, structures, and class relations further. Gender, according to Scott, "is a constitutive part of societal relations founded on apparent variances between different sexual identities and is a prime form of indicating associations of power" (Scott 1067). Gender, therefore, gives a strategy of understanding the intricate relationships between specific forms of human collaboration. Thus, gender, as perceived by different historians, is not a modest notion. It is complicated and at times hard to completely understand. It is a crucial lens through which history is alleged and a type of study which is eventually exceedingly helpful to historians and other intellectuals as well.

Kessler-Harris Views on the Equality Comparable Worth and Equal Pay

Kessler-Harris' article presents a theoretical framework for apprehending certain labor market principles on women's working hours, wages, and employment. She claims that "the main belief of women's demand for equality is justice or fairness or equity" (Kessler-Harris 237) and stresses on similar wage slogans and favorable action programs. Tenets of comparable worth claim that the desire for impartiality is undisputable. "Occupations dominated by women have minimum wages, although it is discriminating, most employers disagree on the need to pay women equally to the male colleagues in the same job group" (Kessler-Harris 238). Kessler-Harris' article claims that constraints on working hours and compulsory maternity welfares aid in safeguarding family roles of women and guarantee their physical safety, although these policies might increase budgets to hiring firms (Kessler-Harris 238). Equality and measures of equal pay possibly increase the relative wages of women and reduce career discrimination, yet they still face implementation and enforcement barriers.


Scott's article on gender contributed in strengthening paradigms specific to the history of Latin Americans and encouraged the historian women in Latin America to study gendered meanings and analyze pragmatism. Both Kessler Harris and Scott perceive their scholarships as part of a radical feminist mission. Scott's article articulates a controversial call to every historian to apprehend gender as a crucial subject in traditional courses. Her article incorporated the dialectal turn which is currently perceived as the point in which cultural history started displacing social history in the frontline of gender studies. On the other hand, Kessler-Harris' article entirely talks about women in the U.S thus providing a kind of different scholarly work but on the same subject of gender studies.

Works Cited

Kessler-Harris, Alice. "The just price, the free market, and the value of women." Feminist Studies 14.2 (1988): 235-250.

Scott, Joan Wallach. "Gender as a useful category of historical analysis." Culture, society, and sexuality. Routledge, 2007. 1053-1075.

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