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William P. Bridges and Robert L. Nelson Award Statement

Legalizing Gender Inequality is a pathbreaking analysis of gender inequality. The authors’ aim was to advance theories of inequality by examining the relationship between market and organizational processes, laying out the mechanisms by which firms produce and reproduce gender pay disparities. The book is a methodologically creative analysis of inequality processes. A series of in-depth legal case studies about gender discrimination in pay demonstrates how courts have legitimated these disparities. The authors develop a new sociological framework: the organizational inequality model. They argue that gender inequality in pay is an aspect of organizational systems, producing shared understandings and expectations about how business is conducted. Their theory provides a framework for mapping historical, industry, and firm-specific variations of how organizations incorporate the context of broader societal gender relations into institutional practice. They make detailed suggestions about how work practices could be modified in order to reduce disparities, and consider the legal implications for firms in the United States. In sum, this is a superb work of sociological scholarship that is destined to have a far-ranging impact through the social and legal sciences.