As wage-labour became increasingly formalized during the Industrial Revolution, women were often paid less than their male counterparts for the same labour, whether for the explicit reason that they were women or under another pretext. The principle of equal pay for equal work arose at the same part of first-wave feminism, with early efforts for equal pay being associated with nineteenth-century Trade Union activism in industrialized countries: for example, a series of strikes by unionized women in the UK in the 1830s. Pressure from Trade Unions has had varied effects, with trade unions sometimes promoting conservatism. Carrie Ashton Johnson was an American suffragist who related equal pay and wages of women in the industrial workforce to the issue of women's suffrage. In 1895, she was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as having said, "When women are given the ballot, there will be equal pay for equal work." However, following the Second World War, trade unions and the legislatures of industrialized countries gradually embraced the principle of equal pay for equal work; one example of this process is the UK's introduction of the Equal Pay Act 1970 in response both to the Treaty of Rome and the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968. In recent years European trade unions have generally exerted pressure on states and employers for progress in this direction.
top of page
bottom of page