Money Matters: Still Fighting for Equality
There has been a call by the Bank of England to let the public nominate whom they would like to see as the new face of the £20 note which will go into circulation within five years. Eighteenth century economist Adam Smith is to be removed from the purple note in favour of a famous, dead, British artist. This announcement has lead to a cry of disappointment over equality as few women fit the Bank of England’s description.
LS Lowry, William Hogarth, JMW Turner and John Constable are amongst the frontrunners. All those who have been nominated are worthy of the place, yet the category proposed by the Bank of England seems to be unfairly biased towards men.
This seems particularly unfair due to the recent history of the Bank of England. In 2013, the Bank announced that former Prime Minister Winston Churchill would be gracing the £5 note, replacing the social reformer and activist Elizabeth Fry. With Fry gone on the fiver there were due to be no women on British currency. This led to 35,000 people signing a petition to get the popular period drama author Jane Austen on the £10 note. From 2017, Austen will be the face of the orange note with the caption “I declare after all there is not enjoyment like reading”, replacing Charles Darwin. The manufacturers and engineers Matthew Boulton and James Watt are to remain on the £50 note.
However, it is not that the category seems unfairly biased towards men. There are a multitude of male visual artists that have transformed their industry, have made Britain what it is today. It is good that the Bank of England are taking the public’s views into consideration and are honouring that our currency has more cultural significance than just being an economic tool. The shortlist of 8 candidates from which the Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney will choose from in July should represent the diversity of British visual artistry, in both race and gender.
The eventual winner will no doubt be white and male because that is who we expect to see on the £20. This vote has given us a chance to change things up like we have not had since May 7th. This is an opportunity to celebrate those that truly inspire is. Of course, there is a more limited range of women to choose from, but the Bank of England have stated that they chose the visual arts to ensure that the most diverse range of candidates would become available.
If it was up to me, my vote would go to Beatrix Potter, the woman whose illustrations of anthropomorphised animals have inspired generations of children, or Alexander McQueen who revolutionised British fashion.
Madeleine is a final year student at the University of Exeter studying BA English with proficiency in French who has developed her writing and editing through her involvement with Her Campus Exeter. In her free time, Madeleine loves discovering new music in preparation for the UK festival season and searching for opportunities which can broaden her horizons, most recently this was volunteering as a teacher in Beijing, China, where she was immersed in Chinese culture and tradition. There are few things in this world that bring Madeleine more joy than glitter, velvet and sequins and her ideal dinner party guests would be Queen Elizabeth I, George Orwell and Taylor Swift. Currently, with graduation looming, Madeleine is exploring the idea of taking time out to travel the world on a shoe string before embarking upon a career in international humanitarian aid.