Equal Pay for Equal Work

27 February 2015

Gender and Sexuality | History

Through all the glitz and glam of the Oscars one part of the ceremony that has got everyone talking is Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech for her Best Supporting Actress award. She received huge support in the theatre audience (as can be seen in the reactions of the likes of Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez) and created a stir on social media as she demanded equal rights for women: “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

In watching the video I couldn’t help but be reminded of an image from the Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950–1975:

Photograph of woman protesting for equal pay © The People's History Museum. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.


The image from an Equal Pay demonstration in London in 1952 was not by any means the first call for equality for women and goes to show what a long standing issue this has been throughout history and across different geographical locations. It is a reminder that despite huge developments in women’s rights the pay gap is something that is still necessary to fight for and has been since before this 1950s image and remains relevant even in lavish present day Hollywood.

Photograph of two women holding 'Equal Pay Without Delay' placards outside the private residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer            © The People's History Museum. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.


Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics have shown that the gender pay gap is shrinking but there is still a marked difference, with full-time wages for men averaging out at 9.4% more than women’s in 2014. As ever it is fascinating and poignant to look back and see how relevant the primary source documents in our collections are today.

These images form part of a collection of Women's Rights and Equality photographs in Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950–1975, available to authenticated academic institutions who have purchased a licence.


About the Author

Clare Souza

Clare Souza

I am a Development Editor at Adam Matthew. Since joining the team I have been lucky enough to research a variety of different subject areas for new digital collections. My special interests lie in gender history and Victorian culture.