We have entered a new moment of negotiation over gender, class and women's relationship to work at home and for pay that will shape policy formation in coming decades. I argue that underlying such debate is a profound transformation of women's labor. Focusing on the United States, I outline the recent breakdown of the gender division of labor among women of all backgrounds which has accompanied women's turn to paid work in the post-World War II years, and its consequences for both the market economy and the realization of new social policy. Women's move from household to wage work, like men's shift off the land, is opening struggles to replace lost arrangements for care, while also providing new legitimation and leverage for such rights. However, uneven breakdown of the gender division of labor, accentuating differences of race/ethnicity and class, threatens to derail such efforts. This perspective furthers development of a dynamic historical dimension in gender and social policy formation.