Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: SS&H 4217
In the Progressive Era, women employed a discourse of municipal housekeeping and gender essentialism to great political effect. Arguing that gendered qualities such as a mothering instinct made them better than men at handling concerns related to public health and morals, they secured positions on city councils and departments, as well as in municipal services like law enforcement. But these gains did not expand markedly in the 1920s, despite the achievement of universal suffrage. In this talk, I examine the city manager system and police professionalization in Oakland and Berkeley to explore one of the reasons why women’s opportunities in municipal government stagnated in the 1920s despite the continued relevance of municipal housekeeping rhetoric. I argue that by the 1920s, many men in municipal government were co-opting gender roles once exclusive to women. These included male city managers who presented themselves as excellent municipal housekeepers and policemen who adopted the methods of social workers, an occupation dominated by women.
This event is sponsored by The History Department’s Women’s and Gender History research cluster
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