Rebel Women
Rebel Women
Aug 21, 2020
The Battle for Equal Pay part 1: The Family Wage (1850 - 1900)
Play • 19 min

Rebel Women is a podcast about history's troublemakers.

This episode is the first in a five-part series about the battle for equal pay; a journey that spans nearly 100 years, from the late 1880s to the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

Much of this battle has taken place in the boroughs of East London, and there is a clear reason for this. People join unions when they feel under threat – you see higher membership in dangerous trades like coal mining than you do in safe jobs like journalism. In East London, industrial accidents and even death were a daily occurrence. A union was a form of insurance, providing some protection against those everyday risks.

Organising women's labour wasn't straight forward however. To start with, there were a lot less of them. And they often didn't have the support of their male colleagues. 

For show notes, reading lists and further stories about East London women, visit our website Or find us on TwitterFacebookYouTubeInstagram or Pinterest.

Rebel Women is part of the Women Activists of East London project, which has been developed by Share UK, a non-profit community group based in London.

Special thanks to the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust for their support of today's episode.


Music by DanoSongs

Produced and edited by Steve Woodward at

Further reading and links

The Industrial Revolution by Matthew White (British Library, 14 Oct 2009) 

"Rouse, Ye Women": The Cradley Heath Chain Makers' Strike, 1910 (Online Exhibition, Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick Library) 

Clementina Black, Fantasy CV (TUC 150 Website) 

Clementina Black (Spartacus Educational) 

Mary Macarthur (Working Class Movement Library) 

Mary Macarthur and the Sweated Industries (Historic England)

J is for Jam Maker (Amanda Wilkinson's Victorian Occupations, 10 March 2016) 

An Historical Introduction to the Campaign for Equal Pay by Mary Davis (Winning Equal Pay: the value of women's work)

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