Lets talk Feminism … Made In Dagenham and Equal Pay

Made in Dagenham was recently shown on BBC (click here to watch) and also I am writing about it in my Representing the Past in Film module and therefore I really wanted to share it with you.
The film is a really great (hence why I chose it for my essay) feel good film and the costumes are divine too however I’m no film critic all I can say is that I enjoyed it – especially from a historians perspective as well as a feminist – and would recommend it to anyone.

In 1968 there were 187 women working as sewing machinists in the Dagenham Ford Plant and their work for their own equal pay and grading changed British Industry forever. They did not realise just the impact they would have – originally it was a dispute about the new grading system grading (1967) the women at Grade B (less skilled production jobs) however when the women found out that the night shift male workers (doing the same job) were graded at Grace C (more skilled production jobs) it turned into an Equal Pay dispute. 

And so the women took industrial action until they were given Grade B and the same amount of pay as the men. With no car seats being made by the sewing machinists, Ford production ground to a halt. The dispute was only resolved when Barbara Castle – Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity – formed an agreement with the women that if they went back to work they would get a pay rise and that she would push for the Equal Pay Act.

So although the women did not achieve immediately what they set out for (there was a further strike in 1984 as Ford had still not gained recognition for their skill) these women directly impacted the passing of the Equal Pay Act and that is something that we can all be glad for today. 


Legally, thanks to acts like the Equal Pay Act, women cannot be paid less, however it is a fact that women today are still being paid less than men for many other reasons. 

Dagenham girls feature

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