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THESE FOUR WALLS: A SECRET HISTORY OF WOMEN HOME-WORKERS

Friday 25 October: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Saturday 26 October: 10:00am - 4:00pm

Cambridge University Library, Milstein Seminar Rooms, West Road, CB3 9DR

Today, over four million people in the UK work from home. These kinds of jobs often offer greater autonomy and flexibility, especially to women, who are still more likely than men to be juggling caring commitments with paid employment. Home-based work thus seems to promise a more harmonious blend between career and family.

Yet in truth, working at home has a more complicated and precarious history for women. Over the past two centuries women's ‘natural’
preference for jobs which fit with domestic responsibilities has been widely assumed. Waged work performed by women at home was often poorly paid and physically gruelling. It also offered little opportunity for progression or creativity. Some women embraced home-working as a positive choice, but for many others it was the least worst option in a labour market marked by by gender segregation, unequal pay and limited childcare provision.

The exhibition is created by the photographer and artist Leonora Saunders and the historian Dr Helen McCarthy (University of Cambridge). Posed by women with rich personal connections to home-working, each image reimagines the life of a woman who laboured for pay in her own home, from the Victorian seamstress and Edwardian chain-maker to the post-war child-minder and late twentieth century entrepreneur.

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Age: All ages, Exhibition, Drop in, Free

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