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Sidel, Ruth 1933–

Sidel, Ruth 1933–

PERSONAL:

Born 1933. Education: Wellesley College, B.A.; Boston University, M.S.W.; Union Graduate School, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Home— New York, NY. Office— Department of Sociology, Hunter College, City University of New York, 695 Park Ave., New York, NY 10021. E-mail— [email protected]

CAREER:

City University of New York, Hunter College, New York, NY, professor of sociology, cofounder and codirector of the Hunter College's Center for the Study of Family Policy, 1988-89; has also been a social worker.

WRITINGS:

Women and Child Care in China: A Firsthand Report, photographs by Victor W. Sidel, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1972.

(With Victor W. Sidel)Serve the People: Observations on Medicine in the People's Republic of China, Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation (New York, NY), 1973.

Revolutionary China: People, Politics, and Ping Pong, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1974.

Families of Fengsheng: Urban Life in China, photographs by Victor W. Sidel, Penguin (Baltimore, MD), 1974.

(With Victor W. Sidel)A Healthy State: An International Perspective on the Crisis in United States Medical Care, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1977, revised and updated edition, 1983.

Urban Survival: The World of Working-Class Women, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1978, reprinted, with a new introduction, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1995.

(With Victor W. Sidel)The Health of China, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1982.

(Editor, with Victor W. Sidel)Reforming Medicine: Lessons of the Last Quarter Century, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Women and Children Last: The Plight of Poor Women in Affluent America, Viking (New York, NY), 1986, revised and updated edition, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1992.

On Her Own: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American Dream, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.

Battling Bias: The Struggle for Identity and Community on College Campuses, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

Keeping Women and Children Last: America's War on the Poor, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1996, revised edition, 1998.

(Author of introduction and notes) Jane Addams,Twenty Years at Hull-House: With Autobiographical Notes, illustrations by Norah Hamilton, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Unsung Heroines: Single Mothers and the American Dream, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Ruth Sidel is a sociologist whose primary interest has been the role of women, the care of preschool children, and the provision of human services in the United States and other countries. Over the years, she has made several visits to the People's Republic of China to conduct studies. She has also written and lectured widely on the impact of poverty on women and children, problems faced by working mothers, and the need for a comprehensive, universal family policy in the United States.

Women and Children Last: The Plight of Poor Women in Affluent America provides a look at the social and economic factors that have impacted the lives of women and children over two decades. Basing her analysis on statistical information and interviews with poor women and professionals who deal with their problems, Sidel delves into the factors that help create poverty and the lack of U.S. policies to effectively deal with the situation. Noting that the author "has also been a psychiatric social worker whose clients were families trying to cope with serious economic and emotional problems," New York Times contributor Alice S. Rossi commented: "A major strength of Women and Children Last is that Mrs. Sidel draws deeply and equally from these two elements of her professional experience." Atlantic contributor Barbara Ehrenreich called Women and Children Last an "excellent and restrained report."

In her 1990 book,On Her Own: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American Dream, Sidel offers an assessment of how women's lives have changed since the 1960s and the beginning of the feminist movement. Through 125 interviews, the author examines how women's views of work and relationships has changed over the years and how they see their opportunities for the future. "What she discovered … was that though young women have got the message that they cannot depend on a man, they've bought into another kind of illusion, a kind of recycled American Dream—a dream of affluence and upward mobility imagined in terms" of modern television shows, wrote Gayle Greene in the Nation. In counterpoint to this "idealistic" view, Sidel provides data and stories about the true struggles these women face and the ultimate chances of attaining the "American Dream."

The author focuses on social and sexual politics in her Battling Bias: The Struggle for Identity and Community on College Campuses. Once again using both statistical analysis and interviews, the author describes America's cultural environment and recounts the stories of students who have encountered bias. She also tells the stories of how some students' perspectives have been changed by encountering people from different ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. "The author personalizes and clarifies a rancorous national problem," observed a Publishers Weekly contributor. Deborah Cohen wrote in the Women's Review of Books: "Sidel does not avoid the difficult questions that her study raises about education, and ultimately also about democracy, and that is one of Battling Bias 's virtues."

Sidel follows up her earlier book on poor women and children in America with Keeping Women and Children Last: America's War on the Poor. In her analyses, the author discusses the propensity in American society for both the public and the government to switch the blame for America's problems from those in power to single-mother families who are poor and powerless. She groups among the accused the poor, welfare recipients, and pregnant teens. The author writes about causes of the problem and its solutions as she compares the U.S. situation with that in other countries. A Publishers Weekly contributor called Keeping Women and Children Last "a thoughtfully researched exploration of the myths and reality of America's attitude towards its least fortunate."

In her 2006 book,Unsung Heroines: Single Mothers and the American Dream, Sidel offers an appraisal of the struggle modern single mothers face in raising children on their own as they pursue better lives. Based on interviews with fifty mothers from various races, ethnicities, religions, and social classes, the book provides a sociological and political analysis of single motherhood that presents a multidimensional picture of these women. "Sidel intends to show that rather than being a negative force in American society, single mothers embody the highest American values," noted a contributor to the Mothers Movement Online. Interestingly, most of the women that Sidel interviewed were eventually able to overcome the obstacles presented by single parenthood to make better lives for themselves and their children.

Through her interview and analysis, Sidel addresses the needs of these women, which include a living wage, comprehensive health care, and preschool and after-school care. The author also presents a political-economic analysis of the situation, along with a his-tory of how American social policy has changed over the years. Finally, she compares the ideologies and policies of the U.S. with other countries. Wendy Wendt, writing in the Library Journal, commented that Unsung Heroines is a "groundbreaking study [that] shatters the negative stereotypes of and misconceptions about these" women.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January, 1988, Seymour Leventman, review of Women and Children Last: The Plight of Poor Women in Affluent America, p. 196.

Atlantic, April, 1986, Barbara Ehrenreich, review of Women and Children Last, p. 125.

Booklist, May 15, 1996, Mary Carroll, review of Keeping Women and Children Last: America's War on the Poor, p. 1552.

California Lawyer, January, 1987, Barbara Mahan, review of Women and Children Last, p. 57.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 1994, review of Women and Children Last, p. 1393; February, 1995, R.C. Morris, review of Battling Bias: The Struggle for Identity and Community on College Campuses, p. 982.

Christianity Today, March 18, 1988, Ruth A. Tucker, review of Women and Children Last, p. 60.

Contemporary Sociology, September 1987, Nijole V. Benokraitis, review of Women and Children Last, p. 628.

Educational Leadership, March, 1987, review of Women and Children Last, p. 87.

Federal Probation, September, 1987, Katherine van Wormer, review of Women and Children Last, p. 101.

Humanist, September-October, 1986, Susan Henry, review of Women and Children Last, p. 44.

Issues in Science and Technology, winter, 1987, Gilbert S. Omenn, review of Women and Children Last, p. 119.

Library Journal, June 1, 1984, review of Reforming Medicine: Lessons of the Last Quarter Century, p. 1139; March 1, 1986, Susan E. Parker, review of Women and Children Last, p. 104; November 15, 1989, Barbara M. Bibel, review of On Her Own: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American Dream, p. 100; July, 1994, review of Battling Bias, p. 108; April 15, 2006, Wendy Wendt, review of Unsung Heroines: Single Mothers and the American Dream, p. 96.

Nation, April 29, 1991, Gayle Greene, review of On Her Own, p. 564.

New York Times, March 4, 1984, Paul Starr, review of Reforming Medicine, p. 25; April 27, 1986, Alice S. Rossi, "Destitution Is Just a Divorce Away," review of Women and Children Last.

New York Times Book Review, March 4, 1984, Paul Starr, review of Reforming Medicine, p. 25; April 27, 1986, Alice S. Rossi, review of Women and Children Last, p. 13; July 29, 1990, Judith Moore, review of On Her Own, p. 21.

Political Science Quarterly, winter, 1987, Barbara Levy Simon, review of Women and Children Last, p. 706.

Public Administration Review, September-October, 1987, Siegrun F. Fox, review of Women and Children Last, p. 436.

Publishers Weekly, February 14, 1986, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Women and Children Last, p. 66; November 24, 1989, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of On Her Own, p. 64; July 25, 1994, review of Battling Bias, p. 42; April 8, 1996, review of Keeping Women and Children Last, p. 64; February 20, 2006, review of On Her Own, p. 151.

School Library Journal, September, 1981, Ellen D. Warwick, review of Revolutionary China: People, Politics, and Ping Pong, p. 41; June, 1990, Keddy Ann Outlaw, review of On Her Own, p. 148.

Signs, spring, 1988, Jennifer Schirmer, review of Women and Children Last.

Social Work, March-April, 1988, Mimi Abramovitz, review of Women and Children Last, p. 175.

Stanford Law Review, January, 1997, Sylvia A. Law, review of Keeping Women and Children Last, p. 471.

Washington Post Book World, April 30, 2006, Emily Bazelon, "Balancing Acts: Women Ask; Is It Possible to Be a Good Mother in Modern Times?," review of Unsung Heroines, p. 10.

Women's Review of Books, January, 1995, Deborah Cohen, review of Battling Bias, p. 11; January 1, 2007, Martha Nichols, "Who's Minding the Kids?," review of Unsung Heroines, p. 9.

ONLINE

Cercles,http://www.cercles.com/ (November 7, 2007), Diana Dominguez, review of Unsung Heroines.

Hunter College, Department of Sociology Web site,http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/socio/ (November 7, 2007), faculty profile of Ruth Sidel.

Mother's Movement Online,http://www.mothersmovement.org/ (November 7, 2007), review of Unsung Heroines.

New York Progressive Network,http://www.nypn.org/ (November 7, 2007), profile of Ruth Sidel.

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