Getting Me Cheap

How Low-Wage Work Traps Women and Girls in Poverty

Two groundbreaking sociologists explore the way the American dream is built on the backs of working poor women

“Low-income mothers toil overnight in warehouses assembling our packages, they ring up our groceries, they mother our children when we’re at work, and they care for our ailing loved ones. Are we ready to stand up for them?” —from Getting Me Cheap

Many Americans take comfort and convenience for granted. We eat at nice restaurants, order groceries online, and hire nannies to care for kids.

Getting Me Cheap is a riveting portrait of the lives of the low-wage workers—primarily women—who make this lifestyle possible. Sociologists Lisa Dodson and Amanda Freeman follow women in the food, health care, home care, and other low-wage industries as they struggle to balance mothering with bad jobs and without public aid. While these women tend to the needs of well-off families, their own children frequently step into premature adult roles, providing care for siblings and aging family members.

Based on years of in-depth field work and hundreds of eye-opening interviews, Getting Me Cheap explores how America traps millions of women and their children into lives of stunted opportunity and poverty in service of giving others of us the lives we seek. Destined to rank with works like Evicted and Nickle and Dimed for its revelatory glimpse into how our society functions behind the scenes, Getting Me Cheap also offers a way forward—with both policy solutions and a keen moral vision for organizing women across class lines.


“This empathetic and eye-opening study leaves a mark.”
Publishers Weekly
“This formidable book insists we face the harm of wage poverty in women’s lives and see the real costs of relying on their cheap labor. The powerful stories of mothers’ determination to care for their children become a courageous call for solidarity and collective action.”
—Ellen Bravo, activist and author of Standing Up: Tales of Struggle
“The United States has the highest percentage of low-wage workers of any country in the OECD aside from Lithuania—a disproportionate number of them women who provide services to better-off families. Freeman and Dobson take us inside their lives to reveal the price they and their families pay for the cheap labor they provide to others.”
—Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap
“An insightful book that shines light on issues that should be better understood by any responsible citizen.”
Kirkus Reviews
“An urgent exposé and exploration of one of our most pressing social problems—hidden in plain sight. A must-read for anyone concerned about how to make America a more just and equal nation.”
—Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage and author of One Fair Wage
“The lives that so many of us lead depend on the invisible labor of others, whose own needs are cast aside by our society. This brilliant book moves those essential workers—so many of them mothers—into the light”
—Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
“The stories shared in this volume speak for themselves, spotlighting the frustrations, needs, and hopes of the women featured.”
Library Journal
“An illuminating primer placing the obstacles facing women with low-wage jobs at the forefront of intersectional feminism.”

News and Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Read a review of Amanda Freeman and Lisa Dodson ’s Getting Me Cheap in Kirkus Reviews


Read an excerpt from Getting Me Cheap at MindShift.

Books by these authors

The Moral Underground
How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy

Lisa Dodson

Goodreads Reviews