Women work for free from now until New Year’s Eve!

Anyone who has seen Nigel Cole’s new movie, Made in Dagenham, might be interested to know that today (November 2nd, 2010) is equal pay day. According to the Fawcett Society, the full-time pay gap between women and men – at 16.4% – is equivalent to men being paid all the year round while women work for free after 2 November.

Cole’s movie is based on the 1968  machinists’ strike at the Ford Dagenham factory, which is widely credited as vital in securing the Equal Act (1970). Although the film begs the usual questions about how  a fiction film can adhere to historical fact (that old chestnut!), I think it makes for very good viewing. Yes, the actresses are a bit younger and more glamorous than the women on whom the film is based. And yes, the ending is a bit disappointing because it suggests that the strike had a happy ending, courtesy in part of Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson). Watch out especially for one moment where one of the women talks about ‘fairness’ – given Mr Cameron’s use of the term, it stands out a mile!

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2 Responses to Women work for free from now until New Year’s Eve!

  1. Many thanks for a thought-provoking blog, and especially the statistic of women working for free for the rest of the year. I had not realised the pay gap remained so significant. A sobering, and sad, reality. Its interesting to add, I think, that such campaigns for women’s rights have their origins in the 19th century. Millicent Fawcett herself, whose name the present Society takes, was a key player in the campaign for Women’s Suffrage from the 1860s. I agree with you about the film: you are spot on with the ‘fairness’ line!

  2. Dr Fiona Reid says:

    During the past decade there has been a great deal of attention paid to the rising academic achievements of girls and young women. Female students regularly perform better than their male counterparts across a wide range of subjects at all levels. This has provoked some anxiety about under-achieving boys but has obscured the fact that these apparently over-achieving girls will go on to develop careers in which they will be persistently under-rewarded. Many young women enjoy successful academic careers and then go on to have their first real encounter with institutional sexism when they reach the workplace. A few years later, when they take maternity leave, they begin to experience genuine problems with promotion, new job opportunities and pension credits.
    Schools, colleges and universities have done much to ensure that young women are educated,
    articulate and confident. Female students – quite rightly – have high expectations about the amount of control they should have over their own lives. Yet structural economic change is required to ensure full, life-long gender equality. After you have watched ‘Made in Dagenham’, go home and read Kat Banyard’s ‘Equality Illusion’ (Faber and Faber, 2010).

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