The Sex Equality Dilemma: Work, Family, and Legal Change in Neoliberal America

Deborah Dinner, LAPA Fellow; Emory University School of Law

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:30am
via Zoom
Event Category: 
By Invitation Only

To receive a copy of the invitation and paper, please respond to  preferably by Wednesday, November 18.


From Professor Dinner: "From the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to that of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, feminists fought to make law and policy more responsive to the needs of working mothers. They pursued two broad goals: the creation and enforcement of sex discrimination law and a more robust welfare state. Both were essential to liberate women and men from constraining gender roles as well as to sustain the daily labor of caring for families. Yet feminists made greater strides toward institutionalizing antidiscrimination norms than they did toward a stronger welfare state. Business opposition, the rise of the New Right, judicial conservativism, and class divisions within the women’s movement all shut down feminist advocacy for more protective labor legislation, new forms of social insurance, and entitlements for working parents. In a neoliberal era, sex equality came to mean individual rights to nondiscrimination rather than a welfare state that supports caregiving.

I plan to workshop the draft introduction and conclusion to my book, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. I am still working on how best to frame and wrap-up the book, so I look forward to your feedback!" 

Deborah Dinner
2020-2021 LAPA Fellow
Emory University School of Law

Deborah Dinner is a legal and intellectual historian of work, gender, capitalism, and the welfare state in the twentieth-century United States. Her scholarship analyzes the interaction between social movements, legal and economic thought, political culture, and legal change. She is the author of The Sex Equality Dilemma: Work, Family, and Legal Change in Neoliberal (forthcoming 2021). She has published numerous articles exploring feminist legal activism, masculinity and divorce law, and the relationship between antidiscrimination law and protective labor standards. Her teaching interests include employment discrimination, employment law, family law, legal history, and property. She received her J.D. and Ph.D. in History from Yale University and clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. At LAPA, she will work on her current book project, A Nation at Risk: Private Insurance and the Law in Modern America. This project examines how ideas about gender, race, and ethnicity shaped insurance practices, the tension between antidiscrimination principles and actuarial logic, and the role of private insurance in social welfare provisioning.