Tag Archives: children

Introducing the team: Clare Rose

27 Mar
Clare Rose

Clare Rose, exhibition curator

Clare Rose was the Exhibition researcher for ‘All Work and Low Pay’, selecting key documents from The Women’s Library and the TUC Archive Collections to create the backbone of the exhibition. She also sourced artefacts and images to bring the narrative alive, finding them in museum collections and even in the local pub, and she wrote the exhibition texts. She has been working as a curator and researcher for over twenty years, specialising in textiles and in women’s history. In 2009 she was the Vera Douie Fellow at The Women’s Library, collecting interviews, photographs and surviving garments from 1970s feminists on ‘The Politics of Appearance’. This research formed part of the exhibition ‘MsUnderstood: Feminism Since 1970’ and  was featured in radio interviews and the national press,  including this article on the liberation look.

Clare Rose has also written several books and numerous articles on the history of fashion, including a set of volumes on ‘Clothing, Society and Culture’ (with Vivienne Richmond, 2005 Douie Fellow at TWL).

These highlight past issues surrounding clothing for women, both as producers and consumers. Many of these issues are highly relevant today; in 2010 she presented a text from 1910 at a meeting about garment workers organised by Fashioning an Ethical Industry. Her other specialism is the history of childhood, and she has written and lectured on this, including appearing in programs for Radio 4.

Clare Rose currently teaches for the Open University and the Victoria & Albert Museum; details of her activities are on her website,

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Visitor Views March

14 Mar

Some women have written, in response to the exhibition, about encountering sexism in the workplace. Particularly shockingly, one visitor remembers that, when she was working as a designer, a client had told her ‘He didn’t talk to me. He preferred to speak with my mate because… “women should be at home just taking care of their children”‘. Another recalls her worst job as being a waitress, ‘men felt it was OK to constantly comment on my height and appearance as I was on “display”. I had to be polite back at all times. I was often spoken to like I was incredibly stupid; I was only doing the job to save up for my masters in economic growth at Cambridge University.’

There are also those remembering struggling to move up the career ladder. A social worker commented that ‘It was always men who moved up to senior management jobs… It is also still seen as “women’s work” and the increase in workload is very stressful- I can’t wait to retire!’. Due to the problems of maternity leave, women still find it difficult to get a successful career. Some describe the ideal work situation as ‘Not having to question when would be a good time in my career to have kids’. Some women have even had breakdowns due to the stress of working in male dominated career areas, although some have successfully moved on from this, such as one visitor who ‘was able to return to college- I graduated with an MA- in women’s studies!’

Many visitors remember the efforts of previous generations of women to go to work, ‘she was a machinist in a dressmaking factory… Physically tiring and then she had to come home and do housework with no domestic appliances’. Another remembers her great grandmother ‘had twelve children… and worked at a Candy Company, NECCO ‘. Jobs that were done by women then are still done today, as one woman wrote, ‘I am about to begin working in the same profession as my mother and grandmother. I am training to be a nurse!’

Visitor views: work and children

18 Nov

Many of the comments we’ve had on visitors’ own experience relate to the issue of work and children. This is a subject threaded throughout the All Work and Low Pay exhibition, with organisations such as Black Women For Wages For Housework campaigning for an alternative system, and books of advice for mothers returning to work after maternity leave.

The exhibition features a timeline with statistics on women and work. One of the most interesting I think is the one showing the disparity between the percentage of men and the percentage of women working part time: hardly any men do. Whether by choice or necessity, this suggests that it is still overwhelmingly women who adapt their working routines to fit around childcare.

Although great strides have been made in legislation to ensure that pregnant women and parents are treated fairly in the workplace, several comments tell of discrimination against women because they have – or simply potentially might have – children:

‘My boss frequently says to me “You are not going to go and have a baby are you?”‘

‘My first job on leaving school at 16 was a trainee dental nurse. At interview I was asked (by five men) what plans I had to get married/have children. This was only in 1985…’

‘I remember a client, when I was working as a graphic designer in Murcia, that told me he didn’t want talk to me. He preferred to speak with my mate because he didn’t like to have a conversation with me, “Women should be at home just taking care of their children…”‘

Emmeline Pankhurst with a baby, The Women's Library/Mary Evans Picture Library

When asked about their ideal working situation, many visitors responded with wishes for work that balanced or understood their family responsibilities:

‘I want to work and have a family preferably with reasonable hours. The recession is making this impossible.’

‘Is not looking after your own babies working? Should we not use the tax system to encourage mothers with small babies to be able to afford to look after their own babies?’

‘[My dream is] owning and operating a business run by women that also benefits women’.

Introducing the team: Eve Barker

28 Oct

All Work and Low Pay posterEve Barker was the graphic designer for the All Work and Low Pay exhibition. She’s responsible for, among other things, the beautiful poster.  Here’s what she says about her work history:

“When I was a 19 year old student I designed the typography for the second issue of Archigram, a provocative architects paper in 1961, and also designed International Socialism magazine and worked on Socialist Worker. I finished college and worked for Penguin Books designing publicity and covers. Then I worked above Bertorellis Restaurant, in Fitzrovia, carrying my baby Nicki in a moses basket and running quickly up the stairs to avoid the rats that lurked everywhere. We were designing the typographic parts of Pirelli calendars, famous for their classy nudes. We moved to Covent Garden, fruit and veg market as it was then, and designed colour supplements.

When my children were a bit older I redesigned all the literature for the new Polytechnic of East London, I had to bring my three girls with me when I discussed new work with the principal. I left them in the typing pool which had turned into mayhem with staff crawling all over the floor by the time I fetched them.Eve Barker self portrait

I was a founder member of Artworkers from the 70s to 1997. Starting from a crumbling old building in Mare Street, East London, we designed placards and posters for many radical organisations, trade unions and charities. I designed a book on asbestos that played an important part in getting the use of asbestos banned in Britain, the author and publisher were sued for libel and were bankrupted but luckily I wasn’t targeted and the book got a lot of publicity. We were ordered to tear the offending page out, but no one was checking.

I have designed Hazards, a trade union safety magazine, leaflets for the construction safety campaign and leaflets and posters for Unison. We promoted the use of photographs of women and black people in the union literature, seems so normal now, but once we had to argue that they were the workforce and not some exotic strangers.

Now I work from home, supposedly at a more leisurely pace, I still love my chosen occupation.”