Tag Archives: sexism

Visitor views and All Work and Low Pay extension

26 Jan

Hello! Sorry it’s been a bit quiet on here of late. We’ve been busy getting the Spring/Summer events sorted. And we’ve got some great news. All Work and Low Pay has now been extended until 25 August 2012. So if you’ve not had chance to visit the exhibition, you’ve got chance to make the trip this summer.

We’re continuing to receive loads of fantastic anecdotes from visitors in response to questions we’ve posed in the exhibition. Here’s just a selection:

‘I worked in a creative agency based in Hoxton for seven months. I was on minimal pay and as one of the only girls was constantly made to feel like my opinions were useless. They just wanted me to do what I was told – no questions asked. When another assistant position became available, one of my colleagues told the boy who applied that they really wanted a girl for the job as it was “a glorified housewife” position. ie shut up, don’t think¬† don’t talk back. This was in 2011!’

‘My mother – now in her 60s – tried to teach me that women’s jobs were always less important than men’s. Women’s unemployment was high in the 1980s, she told me that there would be no problem with unemployment if women did not “take” jobs from men. Her advice had a galvanising effect on me, and I was determined that I would always earn my own living. My mother still talks about “lady doctors!”‘

‘I *had* my ideal work situation – self employed, freelancer and developing my creative side. Now – no paid work, only voluntary work – women are suffering in the cuts!’

‘A few years ago a friend of mine was at The London School of Fashion. After qualification she went for interview at Savile Row. Was taken as an apprentice though was told “we would rather have had a lad!” She’s a qualified master tailor now.’

‘My mother is the eldest of 12, and grew up in the 1950s in South Vietnam. She left school early to stay at home, help looking after her younger siblings and help her mother in the market selling fish. She married early and came to England in 1975 as a refugee during the Vietnam War. An intelligent woman, denied a formal education, she always supported my sister and I in our studies and careers. She encouraged us “not to marry early.”‘

‘My mum was taken out of school before O Levels by her mother, told “women have babies not careers”, she did various retail/cleaning work whilst doing adult education whilst we were small and graduated as a teacher at 40 with three very proud children. My situation couldn’t be more different, 24 and doing a PhD, I do wonder what work will be around by the time I finish though. All I know is she battled and worked incredibly hard to get anywhere due to class and gender.’

‘I am 21. A university student, I aspire to be a writer of columns, essays, stories, whatever. As long as I have a voice to tell others’ stories and my own, I will. I do want a family and a career. I believe I can have both, but we will see. Only time will tell!’



Visitor views

31 Oct

When I visit an exhibition, I always get really inspired and want to tell my own stories about the subject. So, at the end of the All Work and Low Pay exhibition, we’ve included a wall where visitors can write about their experiences (they can even type them on our little 1960s typewriter if they’ve got the skills/patience!)

Here are a few of the many responses we’ve had so far:

What’s the worst job you’ve had? Why?

‘My worst job was selling cold meats and biscuits in Woolworths. The biscuits were unpacked and sold by the ounce. There was nowhere to wash your hands and eventually they were covered in layers of grease from the meat and biscuit crumbs. A food hygiene nightmare!’

‘The worst job I have had was working as a tea lady in [a pension company headquarters]. I was a student and did it for the summer in 1990 and we had to wear a 1950s uniform and wheel a tea trolley and bring all the staff a cup of tea to their desks. We had to know if each person took milk or sugar. There were no men doing this job. Shame as they would have looked good in the nylon dress, apron and hat! The only chance for career progression was to move up to become the coffee maker for the CEO. You also had access to the chocolate biscuits cupboard.’

Have you experienced sexism in the workplace?

‘About five years ago I worked for a boss who said he’d give me a pay rise for wearing high heels every day, and that it was “company policy” for me to wear heels at special events. At one of the events I was wearing flats, when he spotted this he grabbed me and marched me back to the office to put on heels. He stood outside waiting for me with a friend and when I came out, made me spin around and said “see how much more f***able she is now” to the friend. I resigned a week later – best thing I ever did.’

‘My experience is that the expectation of workload is different between the genders. As a woman I do more work in less time than my male colleagues.’

Would you have liked the job your mother or grandmother did?

‘No, neither. My grandmother worked in a shoe factory, but it did instill in her an appreciation of good quality shoes, which she valued for the rest of her life.¬† My mother was a secretary and wanted me to do this as “I would always be able to get a job”. Later in life she ran a charity as a volunteer – I am paid to do this.’

‘My mother had to leave the civil service in the 1920s as she got married. She was the youngest woman health inspector at the time and she resented it all her life. She never worked (paid) again except as an unpaid vicar’s wife – scrimping and saving with a family and a meagre vicar’s salary. She was one of the first women to support divorced women being accepted into The Mothers’ Union.’

‘My grandmother was in domestic service. My grandfather was a farm labourer. My mother married my father who was a clerical assistant in the foreign office and had to become a professional wife. My father insisted that I had a career – and so I did. I am proud of all of us.’

What would be your ideal work situation?

‘Running my own business (from home) earning enough money to feed my family. Not much to ask!’