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Past Event

How Low-Wage Work Traps Women and Girls in Poverty

The pandemic put into stark relief the undue burden faced by working poor women in America. Many were laid off or had to quit for COVID-related reasons, such as school closures. Often, they struggled in low-paid jobs as essential workers, while facing greater demands at home.

But even in the best of times, women in low-wage industries must cope with daunting challenges. In their new book Getting Me Cheap, sociologists Lisa Dodson and Amanda Freeman argue that the conveniences many Americans enjoy—things such as grocery delivery and nanny care—are made possible by the sacrifices of these women. The book reveals how discrimination, unpredictable work schedules, and lack of affordable childcare trap women in poverty and make “work-life balance” impossible.

Join us as we hear from Dodson and Freeman about their research and possible solutions.


Dodson photo by Clara Dodson Fontana; Freedman photo by Ava Ellis; Jayaraman photo by Sekou Luke; Yeung photo by Rachel De Leon

January 19, 2023

The Commonwealth Club of California
United States

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Lisa Dodson

Research Professor Emerita, Boston College; Co-author, Getting Me Cheap: How Low Wage Work Traps Women and Girls in Poverty

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Amanda Freeman

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Hartford; Writer and Researcher of Motherhood and Work; Co-author, Getting Me Cheap: How Low Wage Work Traps Women and Girls in Poverty

Image - Saru Jayaraman

Saru Jayaraman

President, One Fair Wage; Director, Food Labor Research Center, University of California, Berkeley

Image - Bernice Yeung

Bernice Yeung

Managing Editor, The Investigative Reporting Program, University of California, Berkeley