New Book on Women in the Trades by Jane LaTour

December 15, 2009 posted by admin

Sisters in the Brotherhoods is an oral-history-based study of women who have, against considerable odds, broken the gender barrier to blue-collar employment in various trades in New York City beginning in the 1970s. It is a story of the fight against deeply ingrained cultural assumptions about what constitutes women's work, the middle-class bias of feminism, the daily grinding sexism of male coworkers, and the institutionalized discrimination of employers and unions. It is also the story of some gutsy women who, seeking the material rewards and personal satisfactions of skilled manual labor, have struggled to make a place for themselves among New York City's construction workers, stationary engineers, firefighters, electronic technicians, plumbers, and transit workers. Each story contributes to an important unifying theme: the way women confronted the enormous sexism embedded in union culture and developed new organizational forms to support their struggles, including and especially the United Tradeswomen.

Jane LaTour is a journalist and labor activist living in New York City. She has written for various union publications and managed the Women's Project of the Association for Union Democracy. She is a two-time winner of the Mary Heaton Vorse Award, the top labor journalism award in New York City.

"An eye-opening recounting of how little legal protection women had in the workplace just 40 years ago." --New York Post

"An important and powerful acknowledgment of what tradeswomen have accomplished." --Women's Review of Books

"Latour's documentation of the experiences of these forerunners in notational, blue-collar jobs is a testament to their legacy to the young women of the next and future generations . . . enlightening and empowering." --Feminist Review

"Sisters in the Brotherhoods is a gem of a book. With it, LaTour has given us important documentation of an inspiring piece of history that is too little known." --Z Magazine

"A reminder of how much has changed, and how much hasn’t." --World Wide Work "Sisters in the Brotherhoods is one of the most exciting books that I've read in years. It is nothing less than a history of the late twentieth century movement of women into non-traditional jobs as recalled by and through the voices of the women who opened the doors. Jane Latour seamlessly melds the aspirations, experiences, doubts and achievements of the courageous women who earned their livings in trades reserved for men into a persuasive analysis of generational change. Every young woman should read this resonant and moving book." --Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America

"Jane LaTour's book Sisters in the Brotherhoods: Working Women Organizing for Equality in New York City is a great reminder that when we have equal opportunities in every line of work we thrive. When women change the way work is done, they make lasting change in the culture of the workplace." --Billie Jean King

*To learn more about women in the trade, check out Francine Moccio's post on women electricians in New York City.

<< Back to the Full Blog