Earning Power: Women and Work in Los Angeles, 1880-1930 by Eileen Wallis

By Eileen Wallis

The half-century among 1880 and 1930 observed rampant development in lots of American towns and an both speedy circulate of ladies into the workforce. In l. a., the town not just grew from a dusty cow city to a massive American city but additionally provided its citizens myriad new possibilities and demanding situations. "Earning energy" examines the position that girls performed during this progress as they tried to make their monetary means in a swiftly altering international. l. a. in the course of those years used to be the most ethnically varied and gender-balanced American towns. furthermore, its speeded up city development generated loads of financial, social, and political instability. In "Earning Power", writer Eileen V. Wallis examines how girls negotiated problems with gender, race, ethnicity, and sophistication to realize entry to professions and expert paintings in l. a.. She additionally discusses the contributions they made to the region's background as political and social gamers, employers and staff, and as contributors of households. Wallis finds how the lives of ladies within the city West differed in lots of methods from these in their sisters in additional tested jap towns. She reveals that the studies of girls employees strength us to re-examine many assumptions in regards to the nature of l. a.' financial system, in addition to in regards to the methods ladies participated in it. The booklet additionally considers how Angelenos replied to the bigger nationwide social debate approximately women's paintings and the ways in which American society must switch with the intention to accommodate operating girls. "Earning strength" is a tremendous contribution to our figuring out of work within the city West in this transformative interval and of the the most important position that ladies performed in shaping western towns, economies, society, and politics.

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The westside of Los Angeles, they predicted, would become the wealthier section of the city. East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, however, also attracted buyers once the new Buena Vista Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River connected the area to downtown.  But not every newcomer found bliss in Los Angeles.  In spite of promoters’ promises that the boom could continue indefinitely, by the winter of 1888 it had collapsed. Easterners had tired of the hysteria over the city, and fewer and fewer arrived.

In order to make a living, many women of all ethnic backgrounds turned to domestic service. Perhaps because of its ready availability, however, domestic service was considered the least-desirable form of employment by women across all ethnic and racial groups. Instead, the job many women aspired to was retail work, as a clerk or shopgirl. Looking at these two jobs together provides an opportunity to explore how intimately connected different segments of the labor market really were. Domestic service and retail work were, simply, two sides of the same coin.

There was little upward mobility for ambitious teachers. Few women taught at the high school level, and fewer still carved out careers teaching at the college level or as school administrators. The most notable exception was Dr. Susan Dorsey, who started her teaching career at Los Angeles High School in 1896 and worked her way up to vice principal. In 1913 she became Los Angeles’s first female assistant superintendent of public schools, and in 1920 the Board of Education hired her as superintendent of the Los Angeles school system.

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