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Women in the workplace: A timeline through the ages

Kirsty

Life at thinkmoney

Not even 100 years ago, women were forbidden from opening their own bank account. They were not allowed to own a house, serve on a jury or even drink in a pub without the company of a man. It may come as no surprise that the treatment of women in the workplace has been a similar story in years gone by.

As women began to fight for their rights with events such as workplace walkouts and protests, there were many changes to legislation and cultural norms through the ages.

Let us take you on a journey through time to look at how women have progressed in the workplace over the years.

Wartime women

The two World Wars were monumental to global history, but they were pretty significant for women’s history too. It was during these enormous events that women entered the workplace for the first time. Not because women’s rights were on the horizon, but because they had to replace their brothers, husbands and sons who had gone to war. This upped women’s earning power, but it was not to last, as female employment was only welcome during the war.

The ‘firsts’

There’s a first time for everything, and this was certainly the case when women started taking up ‘men’s’ professions. A perfect example of this is when the very first female MP rose to power in 1918. Irish-born Constance Markievicz was elected from her prison cell in Belfast to become the first ever female cabinet member in Europe.

But this was an exceptional case. Many of the ‘first’ women to arrive in male-dominated roles didn’t happen for years to come. It was in 1922 that Helena Normanton became the UK’s first female lawyer and barrister after getting a first-class degree at the University of London. When tech arrived in the 1970s, the UK gained its first ever female newsreader, Barbara Mandell.

Since then, women have taken the professional world by storm, and today we see many of them elected to office or even running some of the world’s biggest companies. Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki is a fantastic example of this!

Mothers mean business

There was once a time when women were not allowed to balance motherhood with professional life. Thankfully recent years have seen huge changes in this department.

The introduction of maternity leave was welcomed in the 1970s as part of the Employment and Protection Act. The Act was later amended in 2003 to allow male employees paternity leave so they could help out at home too.

In 2021, it’s perfectly legal for new mothers to take time off with their newborns, and there are even laws in place to protect them against unfair dismissal as a result of having children.

Into the future!

It’s fair to say that women have been through some ups and downs over the years. There has been a lot of progress that we should celebrate, but there is still more work to be done when it comes to gender equality in the workplace.

One thing is for sure though, there have been countless inspirational women over the years who have paved the way for the way for the women we are lucky enough to have in the professional world today.

It should always be at the forefront of any company's agenda to promote and celebrate the energy, creativity and influence that women have in the workplace, and we're no exception! Supporting women is incredibly important to us here at thinkmoney and we are so proud to have so many powerful, accomplished women taking our workplace by storm!

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