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International Women's Day 2024


Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). Started in 1975 and observed every 8th of March, IWD is described as an opportunity to “renew our collective commitment to achieving gender equality”.

Each year has it’s own theme with 2024 being marked as the year to #inspireinclusion.

As explained on internationalwomensday.com this year’s theme is a reminder that when we:

“inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.”

As recruiters with a strong focus in STEM industry sectors we thought one way we could help inspire inclusion would be to look back at just some of the incredible achievements made and fought for by women, for women in the workplace here in the UK.

From individual women who were pioneers in their field, to key pieces of employment legislation opening up new opportunities and addressing imbalances between the genders, we hope that this will serve as a reminder that working women have overcome huge challenges and barriers, have shifted many cultural norms and that by working collectively and continuing to speak up we can continue to inspire each other and truly achieve gender equality.

  • 1811       Inventor Sarah Guppy is the first woman in the UK to patent a bridge.
  • 1842       Countess Ada Lovelace writes the notes that will lead to her being called the first computer programmer
  • 1868       Nine women become the first in Britian to gain access to university education.
  • 1870       The Married Women’s Property Act is introduced allowing married women to keep their own earnings
  • 1899       Hertha Ayrton becomes the first woman member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
  • 1911       The first International Women’s Day is held.
  • 1912       Nina Cameron Graham becomes the first British woman to qualify as an engineer.
  • 1919       Britain introduces the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act allowing women to enter new careers including the law and accountancy
  • 1919       Women's Engineering Society, the first body for women working in engineering is formed.
  • 1921       Unemployment benefits are extended to include wives.
  • 1941       The National Service Act is passed introducing conscription for women, all unmarried women between 20 and 30 are given war work.
  • 1944       The Education Act outlaws the marriage bar for teachers, so women can teach while married.
  • 1951       Rosalind Franklin becomes notable for her work on X-Ray diffraction images of DNA which leads to the discovery of the DNA double helix.
  • 1954       Gertrude Lilian Entwisle, becomes the first British woman to retire from a complete career as a professional engineer.
  • 1958       Hilda Harding becomes Britain’s first female bank manager.
  • 1964       Married Women’s Property Act entitles women to keep half of any savings.
  • 1968       187 women at the Ford factory in Dagenham strike over equal pay.
  • 1970       Working women still refused mortgages unless they have a male guarantor
  • 1970       The Equal Pay Act makes equal pay compulsory between male and female employees.
  • 1973       The London Stock Exchange includes female members for the first time.
  • 1975       The Sexual Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against women due to gender in the workplace, education, and training.
  • 1975       Women could now open a bank account in their own name.
  • 1977       Britain appoints their first female train driver, Karen Harrison.
  • 1985       The Equal Pay Amendment Act is introduced, and sees women being paid the same as men for doing work of equal value.
  • 1986       Statutory maternity pay is introduced, meaning women continue receiving their salary during maternity leave
  • 1991       Helen Sharman becomes the first British Astronaut.
  • 1996       The first Equal Pay Day is held to draw attention to the gap in pay between the genders.
  • 1997       Majorie Scardino becomes the first female CEO of a FTSE 100 company.
  • 1999       The Sexual Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Act makes it illegal to discriminate against transgender people in the workplace.
  • 2014       Flexible working laws allow more options around childcare.
  • 2015       Shared Parental Leave creates more choices for mothers on return to work.
  • 2017       30 hours per week of free childcare makes returning to work easier.
  • 2017       Companies over 250 people must publish their gender pay gaps.
  • 2023       The UK writes its first International Women and Girls strategy.

Find out more about International Women’s Day IWD www.internationalwomensday.com

Posted by: Escape Recruitment Services