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Sectors and Occupation

Non-British empire migrants lived almost exclusively in large towns, especially in London. In each census year, 44 per cent to 48 per cent of the non-British Empire migrants lived in London. In London itself, migrant communities were concentrated in the East End, with smaller communities in Westminster, Marylebone, Hampstead and St Pancras.

The top four sectors in which for migrant women operated their busineses in London in 1911 were:

  • Clothing (as tailors, dressmakers, drapers and milliners)
  • Education (including private teachers and music teachers),
  • Hospitality (as lodging house owner/keeper), and
  • Arts (including authors, painters, actors, and musicians).

Dressmaking was most popular business amongst migrant women. This was also the case for British-born businesswomen. In fact for the most part the sectors in which British-born business women operated were same as those for migrant businesswomen. This is not surprising as business women often cater to the needs within the traditional confines of the domestic spaces such as the household. However, through entrepreneurial ventures, women are able to move this work beyond the confines of the territories of the domestic.

Foreign-born businesswomen broke pattern of mirroring British-born business women for their activity in the creative industry such as painters, actors, musicians, and authors.They were also often teachers of their own languages – a job that was often done as self-employed business owners rather than within a school.

The stories of some of these businesswomen will be shared over the next few weeks.

Get in touch

Contact Gunjan.Sondhi@open.ac.uk