The purpose of a new exhibition at The Women’s Library at London Metropolitan University is to contradict the idea that the majority of British women didn’t go to work until the second half of the twentieth century.
Which is all very fine and commendable – and true because most women have always worked, in paid jobs or in the home. In 1951 there were seven million working women in Britain, though as the curator points out, their work has consistently been unrecognised and undervalued.
What she doesn’t point out, however, is that nearly all of this work was menial and nearly all of the women were working class.
When Women's Lib came along, in the 1960s , it was founded by and for the sake of middle-class women, at first. However the demand for equal pay and its eventual achievement was to the benefit of all.