International Women’s Day Talk: ‘Making Respectable Women: Changing Moralities, Changing Times’

Wednesday 8 March 13.15- 14.05 
University of Bath School of Management

If you wish to join online, please email Lucy Spedo Mirandolo

This talk presents the ways in which the assessment of being or not being 'respectable' has been applied to women in the UK in the past one hundred and fifty years.

Mary Evans shows how the term 'respectable' has changed and how, most importantly, the basis of the ways in which the respectability of women has been judged has shifted from a location in women's personal, domestic and sexual behaviour to that of how women engage in contemporary forms of citizenship, not the least of which is paid work.

This shift has important social and political implications: amongst these are the growing marginalisation of the validation of the traditional care work of women, the assumption that paid work is implicitly and inevitably empowering and the complex ways in which respectability and conformity to highly sexualised conventions about female appearance have been normalised.

These forms of social marginality and exclusion act to exclude women in new ways, whilst at the same time challenging the part that gender has been assumed to play in organisational and political contexts.

The talk concludes with insights on notions of respectability and citizenship for women in universities.