October 18, 1911, To the Editor of The Standard, “Wages of Women”
In these two letters Davison again engages with Gladys Pott to refute rosy assertions about
the rise in women’s wages, particularly in the textile factories and in domestic service, as a
result of “natural” economic forces entirely separate from labour movements or suffrage.
Sir, Miss Gladys Pott utters a bold challenge to Mrs. Despard, which with your permission
I should like to take up. With unusual wiliness for an “Anti,” Miss Pott has culled a few
exceptional statistics from a great mass which goes far to prove Mrs. Despard’s contention.
Miss Pott takes two special trades, that of the textile women workers, and that of domestic
service, in both of which women’s wages have risen, and cleverly insinuates from that fact
that in all women’s trades wages have risen. But Miss Pott of course knows, as do we all,
that to get an average you take the very lowest as well as the very highest. There are very
clear reasons why wages in these two trades have advanced. The textile women workers
are wonderfully organized into trade unions together with the men, and by this means have
direct representation in Parliament. Hence their wages and conditions are better than in
any other trade.
As to the wages in domestic service, there is a very simple explanation there. It is
the law of supply and demand. Since the year 1860, mentioned by Miss Pott, profession
after profession, trade after trade, has been opened out to women, with the result that they
no longer overcrowd the only occupation, which, together with governessing, was once
open to women.
Emily Wilding Davison
31, Great Coram-street