We had a great time at the Women's Library last night. Perhaps not the most obvious place to head for an evening's entertainment, but London Sophia members went to check out the exhibition on women's work. Women have always worked in paid employment as well as in the home, but their work has often been undervalued and underpaid. We were reminded how last century women had to give up work after they got married, how women were paid at half the rate of men because it was assumed they were part of someone's household, and how much resistance there was to campaigns for equal pay. A hammer used by a female chain maker, with grooves worn in the handle by her hands, highlighted the hard physical nature of much of women's work.
We then adjourned to the pub and talked about our own experiences of work, the pros and cons of single sex schools and how they affect young people's aspirations and the lack of female politicians to follow in Thatcher's footsteps and become the next prime minister. We discussed the injustice of male church ministers refusing to employ female assistant ministers because they are wary of working closely with them and the lack of imagination that they have to defuse any potential problems. And we talked about why men's breakfasts rarely offer childcare for the dads they expect to come. All in all, a very thought-provoking and satisfying evening. The exhibition - All work and low pay: the story of women and work - runs until August and is worth a visit if you're in the area, particularly if you can join in one of the guided tours like we did.