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Women and the British Car Industry

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1229
  • Category: Industry

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Using the sources describe how women are portrayed and explain how this compares with the way men are used to advertise the same product.

Advert 1 shows a woman sat over the seat of a MG Midget sports car. This advertisement was taken for Rover in the 1970’s. Most of the advert is taken up with the young model and only the windscreen and seat of the car is visible. Its target audience is men and it uses sex appeal implying that if you buy this car you will get the model. The model is dressed in hot pants and a low cut top and the text compares the good looking girl to the good looking car by saying ‘Take a good look at its looks. Pretty good, right?’

Advert 2 is for Morris Mini Minors and was released in 1964. This was a popular choice of car for pop stars and fashionable people. The advert shows two men sat in the car while two women pose by the car doors. Both the men and women are dressed up which makes the car look more sophisticated. Although the women’s pose makes them look ditzy and flighty where as the men are sat in the car, in control. The advert was taken before the Equal Pay Act of 1969.

Advert 3 was released in the 1970’s to advertise an MGB GT with a V8 engine. In the advert the car is parked on the side of a hill to suggest that the powerful engine is enough to take it off road. The women in this advert is dressed more sophisticated than in advert 1 and will appeal more to upper class men and possibly women. There is no text on this advert other than the make of car.

Advert 4 is also for the MGB GT but only shows men in the picture, it has been shot in an airfield to appeal more to men. It shows two pilots stood next to the car suggesting that the pilot’s speedy lifestyles require a speedy car. The only text is written on the number plate reading ‘MGB GT’ which is the only way you can tell what make the car is. This advert is selling the car more on its technology rather than its looks which aims it at higher class men.

Women, in these adverts, are generally portrayed as objects, their posture during the earlier adverts makes them seem dizzy and inferior and the later adverts show them to be objects that are used to appeal to the male audience. Men in these adverts are shown as strong and superior as they are sat in control of the car (Advert 2) or are portrayed as high class (Advert 4). The same car is advertised in Advert 3 and 4 but in Advert 3 a women is leant seductively against the car whereas in Advert 4 men are used to show how classy and sophisticated the car is. Overall women are used more as objects than men even after the Equal Pay Act was put in place.

Study these sources carefully then describe and explain the work done by women and men at the Cowley Factory.

Source 1 shows the assembly line at Cowley Oxford in 1938. There are several men working on the car interiors. Now women are shown implying none are employed. It is male dominated because after World War 1 women were expected to go back to the home after taking the place of the soldiers in the workplace.

Source 2 shows the end of a shift at Cowley in 1960. Many employees, men and women, are riding on bicycles to get home. This shows they are lower paid workers and hints at slow progress for women to get into the male dominated jobs. This was taken 9 years before the Equal Pay Act and so the few women that are shown would have been paid less than the men.

Source 3 shows a row of women working at Cowley in 1934. They are making upholstery and trim for the interior of the cars being manufactured. They are sat at sewing machines which was stereotypical women’s work and no men are in sight.

Source 4 shows clerical work at Cowley service office in 1960. There is a row of women doing filing work which shows that the lower paid jobs were dominated by women where as behind them are a row of men doing accounts. One woman is also sat doing accounts which shows that though women could be promoted very few were, and they were not being paid equal wages.

Source 5 shows women gauging car parts at Cowley in 1929. Although it would have been cheaper to employ women this is not a stereotypical job for women to have done. It was seen as men’s work and is a very boring and repetitive job.

Source 6 shows tyre fitting at Cowley in 1955. There are four men doing this job wearing overalls. It was a dirty job that was usually done by men at the time.

Source 1 and Source 3 show a good contrast in the work done by men and women in the Cowley factory. They were both taken in the 1930’s, just 4 years apart. Source 1 shows the work men were expected to do which was dirty manual labour. Source 3 shows the work women were expected to do which was sitting at a sewing machine. Both are very stereotypical work for men and women at the time.

When Source 5 is compared with Source 6 it shows a variety of jobs that could be done by both sexes. Source 6 depicts men in overall fitting tyres which is a dirty job seen as ‘men’s work’. Source 5 shows a similar job, gauging car parts, being done by women, which is not what would have been expected at the time. The women are also wearing overalls suggesting a filthy job similar to the conditions the men would have had to work in.

To compare the women’s work done in the middle of the 20th century Source 3 and 4 could be compared. Source 3 shows women sat sewing which is what would have been expected in the 1930’s. Source 4 also shows the stereotypical jobs that would have been done by women, the clerical filing. Although Source 4 also shows that women could break through the ‘glass ceiling’ and get promoted to do the same work as the men. This is shown by the one woman sat in the line of accountants which is male dominated.

To compare men’s work done at the Cowley factory Source 1 could be cross referenced with Source 6. Source 1 shows the men doing manual labour as they fit car interiors along a production line. Source 6 shows more men doing manual labour in the form of fitting tyres. This comparison shows the stereotypical work was not only done by women at the time. Most men were given laborious and dirty jobs.

To conclude, most jobs shown in Sources 1-6 are stereotypical not only for women but for men as well. Sources 1 and 6 show the typical work done by men and Sources 3 and 4 show the typical work done by women. The only exceptions are Source 5, which shows women doing typical men’s work, and Source 4 which shows that some women were given better jobs than it was first thought.

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