100 Years Of Growth For Women At Work

A lot can happen in a century!

100 years of Women at Work Growth

1908

Aldeburgh became the first town in the UK to appoint a female mayor.

First Female Mayor

1913

Emily Dawson was successful in becoming the first woman magistrate in the UK.

First Woman Magistrate

1914

The UK got its first female police constable.

First Female Police Constable

1914

World War I - The Great War became the catalyst for the cultural and social movement that helped women become more integrated into vital roles, more previously attributed to men. Rising production needs demanded women step into key mechanical, administrative and militant roles; in addition to filling the voids left by vacated males in retail, clerical and financial roles due to conscription.

World War I Women

1918

The Representation of the People Act 1918 (Fourth Reform Act) was passed. Women over 30 years old received the vote but only if they were a member of the Local Government Register (or indeed married to someone who was), a property owner, or a rare University graduate voting in the same constituency from where they graduated.

Woman allowed to vote

1919

The Sex Disqualification Act of 1919 was passed. This extremely broad and empowering act allowed women to become lawyers, vets and civil servants. It decreed: “A person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to or holding any civil or judicial office or post, or from entering or assuming or carrying on any civil profession or vocation, or for admission to any incorporated society (whether incorporated by Royal Charter or otherwise).”

Later that same year, the UK saw the election of its first female MP.

Sex Disqualification Act 1919

1928

The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 was passed. The 1928 Act expanded on the 1918 act by granting women electoral equality with men, meaning all women over 21 years of age, regardless of property ownership, were given the right to vote.

Representation of the People Act

1929

Margaret Bondfield was selected as the first female cabinet minister in UK history.

First female Cabinet Minister

1938

World War II - Alike the first World War, many jobs previously dominated by men were filled by women, due to the conscription of men into the war effort. Such roles that women assumed and completed diligently were:

  • Mechanics
  • Engineers
  • Plumbers
  • Ambulance Drivers
  • Wardens
  • and Bomb Makers...
  • World War II Women

    1938

    Furthermore, huge numbers of women joined the military outright:

  • 640,000 women enlisted into the armed forces voluntarily.
  • 55,000 of them fired a weapon and took part in air defence.
  • 80,000 served in the ‘Women’s Land Army’. A vastly unheralded and under appreciated part of the war effort, these tireless women worked primary jobs such as farming and herding to supply the food necessary to fuel the war effort.
  • Countless more served as nurses, medics and in air evacuation units.
  • World War II Women

    1956

    Rose Heilbron became the first female judge in British history. She would follow this piece of history up with another one in 1972, when she became the first female judge at the Old Bailey.

    First Female Judge in Britain

    1958

    Hilda Harding achieved huge success when she was appointed the first woman bank manager in UK history.

    First woman Bank Manager in UK

    1970

    The 1970 Equal Pay Act was passed in the UK. This act decreed that there be no discrimination in pay for the same work no matter of the employee’s gender. Interestingly, the act was proposed and eventually passed into law to bring the UK into alignment with the stipulations of the Treaty of Rome, as part of the UK’s desired entry into the European Community. In essence, Europe brought women’s equal pay rights into law.

    Equal Pay Act

    1973

    British women were allowed to join the stock exchange for the first time.

    Women allowed in British Stock Exchange

    1975

    The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 was passed into law. Per this act, it became illegal to discriminate against both men and women, in employment, education and training. The act would go on to be amended in 2008 to cover transsexual people.

    Sex Discrimination Act 1975

    1976

    Mary Langdon made history by becoming the first female firefighter in the UK.

    First female fire fighter

    1979

    Margaret Thatcher began her much discussed and heavily debated, record-setting reign as the Prime Minister of Britain.

    Female Prime Minister of Britain

    1991

    Helen Sharman shot for the sky when she became the first ever British woman to go out into space.

    First woman in space

    1995

    Pauline Clare achieved the rank of chief constable in the British Police forces.

    Chief Constable