The Politics of Pressure for Reform

  • Elizabeth M. Meehan


The close timing of the American Equal Pay Act (1963) and Civil Rights Act (1964) on the one hand and the British Equal Pay Act (1970) and Sex Discrimination Act (1975) on the other and the economic analyses discussed in the last chapter suggest that equal pay and opportunity laws may be seen as complementary. To some extent this is true. The latter laws, in principle, prevent evasions of the former. But the history both of pressure for change and of willingness by governments to respond suggest that the issues are distinct, especially in Britain. Demands for public enquiries into equal pay had appeared since the nineteenth century. But widespread pressure for an anti-discrimination law did not ‘take off’ until after the Equal Pay Act. And in any case, although this book is about employment only, employment is but one of several aspects of economic and social life covered by The Sex Discrimination Act. In the United States, although public responses clearly distinguish between equal pay and equal opportunities, early feminism showed a much greater integration of political, social and economic demands than in Britain. In both countries, something of a hiatus occurred in the inter-war period. After 1945 pressure for an equal rights amendment gained some momentum in the United States.


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© Elizabeth Meehan 1985

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  • Elizabeth M. Meehan

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