Separate Spheres: Institutionalizing an Ideology


  • Heidi Berggren

Document type: Encyclopedia Entry

Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia

Year: 2010


  • Changing Families
  • Gender
  • Public Policy
  • Roles
  • Work and Family


  • Political Science


This entry will examine how past public policies related to work and family influence present-day policies by keeping alive and passing on outdated ideas about gender. The earliest public policy responses to rising numbers of working women in the early 20th century, advocated by protectionists at the state level, were animated by some components of “separate spheres” or the notion that women ideally belong in the private world of home and family and that men belong in the public domains of paid employment and politics. Notwithstanding the dubious accuracy of separate spheres as social description at any point in time, this ideal has functioned powerfully as prescription, aspiration, and justification for keeping women in their place even as they joined men on the paid labor force.

Link:Separate_Spheres Encyclopedia