ROOTS; Hidden Women

By Leonie Helm

‘Where are all the women?’ asks the London Transport Museum. Yeah, where are all the bloody women? Everywhere. They always have been. Doing cool shit. But the powers that be either weren’t interested or didn’t think others would be, so kept it quiet. Probably felt threatened. Bless.

Train Driver Hannah Dadds, 1978.

2018 has been a big year for women. Not only women today but women in history with previously unsung heroes of medicine, literature, and other prestigious industries finally getting the limelight they were so forcibly denied in their lifetimes. 2018 saw the first woman grace the plinths of Parliament square as Millicent Fawcett took prime position among the likes of Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi. Apparently even women immortalised in bronze are a threat.

Lack of representation has all but wiped most women from history,leaving modern society dangerously ignorant to the achievements of women equally impressive as their famous male counterparts.

The London Transport Museum is trying to combat this under representation and is currently asking people to contact them with stories or any women they know who worked in the transport industry in London or the UK from 1800 to the present day. ‘Where Are All The Women’ aims to highlight the lives of these women who carried out important and skilled jobs in a heavily male dominated work forces.

Your train conductors and bus drivers may not seem as exciting as your scientists and pilots, but if we are to eventually achieve equality, we need to rewrite all aspects of history to truly reflect the contribution women made.

Bus Conductor Agatha Claudette Hart, 1962.

Among the women to be featured in the exhibit is Elizabeth Ann Holman, a railway laborer in Cornwall for Great Western Railway. In the mid-19th century marital rape didn’t exist in the eyes of the law and equal pay was a bad joke, despite factory workers preferring female workers since they could be “more easily induced to undergo severe bodily fatigue than men”, according to Victorian Women by Joan Perkin. Elizabeth risked the punishment of ‘transportation’ for choosing to wear ‘men’s’ clothes from the age of 13 and having short hair.

Joy Jarvis was a London textile designer during the 1940s responsible for the eye conic ‘Roundel’ and ‘Bullseye’ moquette for London Transport. Frustratingly but not unsurprisingly, until recently the credit for these designs was attributed to another male designer.

Interiors by Joy Jarvis, 1938

Across the pond, Philadelphia born inventor Maria Beasley was busy redesigning the life raft.

Educate yourself to the wonders of the woman and inspire yourself with our own compilation of powerful women in the transport industry, ‘The Travel Ladies Built’.

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