The figure in Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Woman with Parakeet (1871) represents bourgeois femininity at the end of the 19th century, yet she is a person who might well feel enclosed in a metaphorical golden cage similar to that of the parrot she holds in her delicate hands. Women in France at the time were to a greater or lesser extent in charge of household duties, and enjoyed few political, economic, or social rights. In the visual arts, they were generally regarded as muses and models (as in Renoir’s painting). Nonetheless some, like Mary Cassat, Eva Gonzalès, and Berthe Morisot, started to make names for themselves as artists in the 19th century and were among those associated with French Impressionism.

Today there is increasing support for the promotion of women artists in cultural institutions, not to mention the defense of women’s rights more broadly in every sphere of society. Despite advances in terms of gender equality, the wage gap and the glass ceiling still exist in the 21st century, making it hard for women to progress upwards in the labor market. What obstacles still need to be overcome to attain gender equality?

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The (UK) Labour Party commemorates the centenary of women’s suffrage.
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