When Sexism Skews Statistics

When Women Didn't Count

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Policeman. Fireman. Salesman. As their names suggest, these occupations have historically been associated with men. In the 21st century, our society is waking up to the harmful effects of such rigidly defined gender roles; but for most of U.S. history, these biases were normalized and accepted as part of everyday life.

For today’s young people, these past realities can be hard to fathom. As educators, we can draw upon primary sources—documents, photos, artifacts, and statistics—to help make the past concrete. But what happens when historical prejudices influence the credibility of sources themselves?

In this fascinating Praeger title, When Women Didn’t Count: The Chronic Mismeasure and Marginalization of American Women in Federal Statistics, Robert Lopresti examines how gender bias skewed centuries of government statistics on women’s lives and occupations in the United States. Lopresti’s meticulously researched and detailed writing make this book a must for educators looking to illuminate the impact of historical bias with their students.

Read on for an excerpt detailing how the U.S. Census skewed data on women’s occupations through the 19th and 20th centuries:

This title is published by ABC-CLIO Praeger, an imprint offering critical insights from leading scholars on subjects from American history to global security. Click here to view more recent titles from Praeger.