Tag Archives: visitor views

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 thinkĀ  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: 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’.