Women in the professions

{See also Employment}

{See also Professions}

{See also Society for the Employment of Women}

The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 opened the professions to (middle class) women. However, many women (mainly working class) were made redundant by the end of hostilities, having been forced to surrender their jobs to men, both returning soldiers and those who had never fought. Eleanor Rathbone, who was to become an MP in 1929, succeeded Millicent Garrett Fawcett as NUWSS president in 1919. The NUWSS then became the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship (NUSEC) and continued to campaign for women's equality. NUSEC became the Townswomen's Guild..

The USA had female solicitors since 1869. In 1913 the Law Society refused to allow four women (Misses Gwyneth Bebb, Lucy Nettlefold, Karin Costello, and Maud Ingram) to sit its examinations. The women took the case (Bebb v. Law Society) to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the decision. Mr Justice Joyce said that women were 'not persons' within the meaning of the 1843 Solicitors Act. The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 changed this. In 1922 the first four women (Maud Crofts, Carrie Morrison, Mary Pickup, Mary Sykes) passed the Law Society's examinations, which qualified them to be solicitors. Maud Crofts had been a Girton student (she won First-Class Honours at Cambridge but was refused her degree) and a suffragette and had been involved in the 1913 appeal case. By 1931 there were 100 female solicitors in the UK. In 1967, 2.7% of solicitors were female.

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All pages © Helena Wojtczak 2009. Corrections and additions are warmly welcomed. Email me