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A timeline of key dates for women in business

by Sellick Partnership | 5 March 2018

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 and to mark 100 years since the Representation of the People Act 1918 – an act of Parliament passed to reform the electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland giving women the vote – we have taken a look back at some of the key events that have shaped the representation of women in business and how far we have come in the fight against gender inequality. Take a look at these below, or download our infographic here.


The fight for equal rights begins
1911 – International Women’s Day was marked for the first time.
1913 – On 4 June 1918 Emily Davison ran out in front of the king's horse as it was taking part in the Epsom Derby.
1914 – The start of WW1 and an estimated two million women take on roles traditionally performed by men.
1918 – Representation of the People Act is passed, giving the vote to women over 30 who held £5 of property, or had husbands who did
1919 – Nancy Astor becomes the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons.

Progress and signs of change for women 
1928 – Women given the vote from the age of 21 – equal to men.
1945 –During WWII 90 percent of single women and 80 percent of married women are working in factories or on the land.
1950 – The number of female-owned businesses in the US reaches nearly 1 million – growing by almost 70 percent since the end of WWII. 

Women stand up to discrimination at work
1962 – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program's first successful space missions. This story was recently portrayed in the Blockbuster movie ‘Hidden Figures’.
1968 – Women at the Ford car factory in Dagenham strike over equal pay, almost stopping production at all Ford UK plants. Their protest led directly to the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970.
1975 – The Sex Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training.

Women make history 
1979 – Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first female Prime Minister.
1983 – Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value Amendment for the Equal Pay Act.
1997 – 120 women win seats in the general election.
1997 – Marjorie Scardino becomes the first female FTSE CEO, appointed as CEO of Pearson.
1997 – At 27 years of age, Karren Brady becomes the youngest Managing Director of a PLC (Birmingham City Football Club) in the UK.

Further progress for women in business 
– Angela Merkel becomes Germany’s first Female Chancellor.
2008 – For the first time, more women than men set up businesses in the UK.
2014 – Shared parental leave is introduced.
2016 – Research from Facebook reveals that 2.7 million women want to start a business. 
2017 – Research suggests women in the UK are more likely to start their own business than their male counterparts.
2018 – 100 years since the Representation of the People Act 1918.

Are you interested in finding out more about the role of women in business? Check out our insights section for more blogs from Sellick Partnership staff including Managing Director Jo Sellick.