Women’s Work?

This focus gallery includes a collection of representations of women at work.

The second wave feminists of the 1970s famously argued “the personal is political,” ushering in decades of conversation about the question what is women’s work?

This focus gallery includes a collection of representations of women at work. The work in question includes for the most part paid and unpaid domestic labor -- cleaning and taking care of children. This labor is at times idealized and romanticized, often taking the form of a modern day Madonna and Child.

Many of the objects in this gallery were also made by women artists, and include one striking self-portrait of a female painter at work. Thus the “works” included here are literal manifestations of women’s labor. In a time of mommy wars, “leaning in,” and earning 78 cents to every dollar that a man makes, these paintings and sculpture from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries help us ask important questions about the value of women’s labor, both inside and outside the home today.