Chronography of women�s entry to selected roles and careers

Page last modified 13 June 2023


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Education (studying)

Law enforcement (Judiciiary, police)


Military and Inteligence


Political office


Space travel


Teaching (instructors)


17 September 1991, Women were admitted to the �Magic Circle� magician�s association.

28 April 1988, Sian Edwards, 28, became the first woman to conduct at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

17 July 1984, Svetlana Savitskaya of the USSR became the first woman to walk in space.

3/1984, Brenda Dean was elected by the 250,000 members of SOGAT to head the trades UNION. She was the first woman to lead a major trades union.

1982, First UK woman firefighter.

6 October 1978, The first woman train driver on the London Underground began work.

21 August1976. Mary Langdon, aged 25, joined the East Sussex Fire Brigade, becoming Britain�s first female firefighter.

26 March 1973. Women were allowed on the floor of the London Stock Exchange for the first time. Mrs Susan Shaw stepped onto the floor, the first woman in the 171-year history of the Stock Exchange.

5 April 1971, Mrs Fran Phipps became the first woman to reach the North Pole.

10 December 1964, Dorothy Hodgkin became the first British woman to win a Nobel Prize. She researched the structure of proteins such as insulin.

1958, Hilda Harding became Britain�s first female bank manager.

1951, John Lewis appointed its first female Director, Miss MJ Ahern.

17 September 1940. The first women workers on the London Underground began work, as ticket collectors and porters.

1923, In Britain, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) elected its first woman Chairman of the General Council, Miss Margaret Bondfield.

13 February 1917, Britain introduced new regulations to allow women to be taxi drivers.

20 October 1915, UK Prime Minister Lloyd George allowed women to step into many male employment roles, three months after 30,000 women marched down Whitehall demanding �The right to serve�. Trades Unions were concerned in case the move depressed wages.

1911, Due partly to the spread pof the typewriter, as businesses needed more letter writing and record keeping, the number of female clerks in England and Wales had risen to 146,000, up from 7,000 in 1881.

12/1910, In Britain, the first woman had qualified as a Chartered Accountant, and another as a Banker.

10 December 1905, Austrian pacifist and writer Bertha von Suttner became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

7 October 1904, Isabella Bird Bishop, the first woman to be admitted to the Royal Geographical Society of London, died today aged 73. A sickly child, the family doctor advised her to travel and she did, widely, firstly to the western USA. Her last trip aboard was to Morocco in 1901. She established missionary hospitals in India and China.

1 September 1878, Emma Nutt became the first woman to work as a telephone operator, on the exchange at Boston, Massachusetts.

8 December 1660, The first (unnamed) actress appeared on the English stage.

1317, France adopted the Salic Law, excluding women from the throne.



25 March 1992, Barbara Harmer, 39, became the first woman pilot of Concorde.

18 May 1953, Jacqueline Cochrane, piloting a US F-86 Sabre plane, became the first woman to fly faster than sound.

5 January 1941. Amy Johnson disappeared, presumed drowned, in a mysterious flying accident on a routine flight over the Thames estuary. She was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

31 December 1934, Helen Richey became the first woman airline pilot in the USA. She flew Central Airline�s Washington DC to Detroit flight.

21 May 1932. Amelia Erhart became the first woman to make a solo air crossing of the Atlantic. She flew from Harbor Grace in Newfoundland to Londonderry in Ireland in just under 15 hours.

18 June 1928. American aviator Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly the Atlantic. She and her two male companions landed safely in Wales.

21 June 1913, Georgia Bradwick, in Los Angeles USA, became the first woman to make a parachute jump.

16 April 1912, The Channel was first flown by a woman, Harriet Quimby.

8 March 1910. The French Baroness de Laroche became the first woman pilot.

22 October 1906, Elise Deroche became the first woman to fly solo.


Education (see also Teaching)

11 October 1988, Women were allowed to study for the first time at Magdalene College, Cambridge, UK. Male students wore black armbands and the porter flew a black flag.

8 December 1920 Cambridge University refused to admit women to full-time studentships.

7 October 1920, Oxford University admitted its first 100 women, to study for full degrees.They had been permitted to sit Oxford examinations before this day.

11 May 1920. Oxford University agreed to start awarding degrees to women.

11 March 1921, Queen Mary became the first woman to be awarded an Oxford Degree.

1916, Women were first admitted to university in Turkey.

1908, German universities began admitting women.

9 March 1900. German women petitioned the Reichstag for the right to attend university.

29 April 1885, Oxford University allowed women to sit its examinations.

17 November 1880, The first three female graduates from London University received their degrees.

15 January 1878, London University awarded degrees to women for the first time.

16 October 1869, Girton College, the oldest women�s college in Cambridge, was opened.

28 September 1865. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was admitted to the register as the first qualified woman surgeon and physician in Britain.

1854, Cheltenham Ladies College was founded.

1848, Women were first admitted to London University.

25 August1841, Three women from Oberlin Collegiate Institute, Ohio, became the first women in the USA to be awarded degrees.

30 October 1838. Oberlin College, in Ohio, became the first higher education establishment to admit women on an equal basis with men.

1754, In Germany, the University of Halle awarded the first medical degree attained by a woman.


Law enforcement

25 November 2015, The first Asian woman to become a High Court Judge in Britain, Mrs Cheena-Grubb, 49, from Derby, was sworn in. There were now 22 female High Court Judges, compared with just 10 in 2005.

8 December 2005, Dame Rose Heilbron, first woman to sit as a Judge at the Old Bailey, died (born 19 August1914)

4 March 1983, Bertha Wilson was appointed the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada.

25 September 1981, Sandra Day O�Connor became the first woman appointed to the US Supreme Court.

4 January 1972. Rose Heilbron became Britain�s first woman judge at the Old Bailey.

30 September 1965, Elizabeth Lane was sown in as Britain�s first female High Court Judge.

23 September 1964, Roma Flinders Mitchell, 51, became Australia�s first woman Judge. She sat in the Supreme Court.

8 October 1962, Judge Elizabeth Lane became the first female judge to sit in the High Court.

27 March 1961. The first women traffic wardens began ticketing, in Leicester.

5 December 1956, Rose Heilbron became Britain�s first female judge. She sat in Burnley, Lancashire.

1945, Charity Taylor became the first UK woman Prison Governor when she took over at Holloway.

10 May 1922. Dr Ivy Williams became the first woman to be called to the English Bar.

9 July 1925, In Dublin, Oonagh Keogh, 22, became the first female member of a stock exchange.

25 May 1921. Miss Olive Clapham qualified as Britain�s first woman barrister.

25 January 1921, Six women were sworn in as jurors in a divorce trial, the first women to serve in this type of case.

7 January 1921. The first woman was elected as foreman of a jury in Britain. This was in Dudley, Birmingham.

30 December 1919, In London, the first female bar student was admitted to Lincoln�s Inn.

22 November 1918, In London, 100 women police officers went on street patrol for the first time.

1916, Women magistrates were first appointed in Canada,

1915, Women magistrates were first appointed in Australia.

27 November 1914, Britain�s first policewoman went on duty, on completion of her training, in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

26 May 1913. Miss Emily Duncan became Britain�s first woman magistrate. She was appointed a Justice of the Peace in West Ham, London.

12 September 1910. The world�s first policewoman, Alice Stebbins Wells, formerly a social worker, joined the Los Angeles Police.

2 April 1902, Esther Hobart Morris, 89, the first woman to serve as a justice of the peace in the USA (born 1812), died. She was appointed to the post in Sweetwater County, Wyoming after her predecessor resigned to protest the territory's adoption of the women's suffrage amendment.

14 November 1900, France approved the admission of women to practice at the Bar.



17 December 1917. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Britain�s first woman doctor, died.

14 December 1911. Miss Eleanor Davies Colley, MB London, became the first woman to be admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons.

31 May 1910. Elizabeth Blackwell, English-born American doctor, the first woman to gain an MD degree in 1849, from Geneva College, New York State, died. Despite hostility during her education and career, she succeeded in opening up the field of medicine to women. She retired to Hastings, UK, where she died.

15 October 1908, The Royal College of Surgeons decided to allow women to obtain the Licence in Dental Surgery.

1876, British medical colleges opened to women.

1872, London School of Medicine for Women opened.

23 January 1849. English-born Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from a New York medical school to become the first female doctor.

9 June 1836, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, physician who had to study privately because of her sex, and then did much to facilitate women�s entry into the medical profession, was born.

3 February 1821, Elizabeth Blackwell, first English woman doctor, was born.


Military and Intelligence

16 December 1991. In London, Stella Rimington became the first female to head MI5, and the first director-general to be publically named.

17 September 1976. The first female cadets were admitted to Dartmouth Naval College, UK.

11 June 1970, Annie Mae Hays and Elizabeth P Hoisington became the first female US Army Generals.

3 December 1948, Colonel Mary Agnes Hallaren became the first female officer in the US Army.

6 August1925, Loretta Perfectus Walsh, first active-duty woman to serve in the United States Navy, died aged 29 of tuberculosis.

8 January 1918, Recruiting began in Britain for the WRNS; the Women�s Royal Naval Service.

28 March 1917. The first women�s service unit, the Women�s Army Auxiliary Corps, was formed.

27 June 1916,King George V confirmed that women were eligible to receive the Military Medal.



13 February 1978. In the UK, Anna Ford became ITN�s first woman newscaster. See 1/1948.

22 June 1960. Nan Winton became the first woman to read the national news on BBC television.

1/1948, The BBC stated that all 8 of its newsreaders would be men because �people do not like momentous events such as war and disaster to be read by the female voice�. In 1976 Angela Rippon became the first woman newsreader on BBC TV. See 13 February 1978.

31 August1936. Elizabeth Cowell, Britain�s first woman TV announcer, made her debut at Alexandra Palace.

18 May 1936, Jasmine Bligh and Elizabeth Cowell became the BBC�s first women announcers.

28 August1933, The first female BBC woman announcer, Sheila Borrett, began work.


Political Office

4 January 2007, Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as first female speaker of the US House of Representatives.

22 January 1997, Madeleine Albright became the first female US Secretary of State after confirmation of her appointment by the US Senate.

13 June 1993. Tansu Ciller became Turkey�s first woman president.

27 April 1992, Betty Boothroyd became the first woman Speaker in the House of Commons.

16 May 1991, Edith Cresson, aged 57, became France�s first woman Prime Minister.

11/1990, Mary Robinson, campaigner for women�s rights and pro-contraception, became the first female President of the Republic of Ireland.

12 February 1990, Dr Carmen Lawrence became Premiere of Western Australia, the first woman Premiere of an Australian State.

November 1988, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan became the first woman elected to lead an Islamic country.

June 1987, In the British General Election, in which the UK�s first female Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, won a record 3rd term, there were now a record 41 women MPs.But this was still just 6% of total MPs.

12 July 1984, In the USA, G Ferraro became the first woman to run for Vice President.

7/1984, In the USA, as women became influential within the Democratic Party, Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. She was the first woman to be appointed to this position.

12 November 1983, The Lord Mayor�s show in London featured the first woman Mayor, Dame Mary Donaldson. She had been appointed in May 1983, the first woman Mayor since the Office was created in 1192.

1981, In Britain the House of Lords got its first woman leader, Baroness Young.

1 February 1981, Norway elected its first woman Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland.

June 1980, Vigdis Finnbogadottir became Iceland�s first woman President.

1 August1979, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was installed as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, the first woman to hold this office.

July 1979, Portugal elected its first woman Prime Minister, Maria Pintassilgo.

May 1979, Mrs Thatcher became Brtiain�s first woman Prime Minister.

4 December 1978, Dianne Feinstein became San Francisco�s first woman mayor, following the murder of mayor George Moscone. She served until 8 January 1988.

2 May 1964, Nancy, Lady Astor, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons in 1919, died aged 84.

21 July 1960. Sirimavo Bandarainake became the world�s first woman Prime Minister, of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). This followed the assassination of her husband, Solomon, the former Prime Minister.

21 October 1958, Women took seats in the UK House of Lords for the first time.

30 October 1957, Women entered the House of Lords for the first time, as a new category of �life peers� was created. Previously, only male bearers of hereditary titles could become peers.

26 August1935, Geraldine A Ferraro, first woman to be nominated for Vice Presidency of the US (with Walter Mondale, Democrats, in 1984) was born.

10 June 1929. Margaret Bondfield became the first British woman Cabinet Minister when she was appointed Minister of Labour.

5 January 1925. Mrs Nellie Taylor Ross became governor of Wyoming, the first woman Governor in the USA. This followed the death of her husband.

1924, Denmark became the first country to appoint a woman to the Cabinet. Nina Bang became Minister for Education, until 1928.

4 November 1924. Texas elected its first woman state governor.

3 October 1922, Rebecca L Felton, aged 97, became the first female US Senator. She had been a prominent figure in Georgia politics. However she had only been appointed as a gesture to complete the term of a deceased Senator, and was succeeded the next day by a newly-elected Senator.

24 February 1920. Viscountess Lady Astor became the first woman to speak in the British Parliament. Her husband, Conservative MP Waldorf Astor, succeeded her father as Viscount Astor in 1932 and moved to the House of Lords; she won his seat in a by-election 2 months ago. This day she spoke in opposition to a move to abolish the Liquor Control Board.

1919, Women were allowed to work as government clerks in France.

28 November 1919. Viscountess (Nancy) Astor became Britain�s first woman MP. She took her seat in the House of Commons on 1 December 1919, elected by a substantial majority. She won the seat of Plymouth Sutton in a by-election caused by the elevation of her husband to the peerage. She retired from Parliament in 1945. However see 28 December 1918.

28 December 1918, Constance Markievicz, became, technically, the first woman MP in the British and Irish Parliament. This day she was elected MP for Dublin St Patricks consitutuency, as a SinnFein MP. However Sinn Fein has a policy of sbataining from the British Parliament, so she never took her seat. See 28 November 1919.

23 October 1918, The House of Commons voted to allow women MPs, by a margin of 274 to 25 votes.

7 November 1916. Janet Rankin became the first woman member of the US Congress.

17 March 1911. In Norway, Anna Rogstadt took her place as the country�s first woman MP.

9 November 1908. Britain�s first woman Mayor, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, was elected, at Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

1907, In Britain, women could now become councillors.

25 May 1907. In Finland, the world�s first Parliament with women members opened.

15 March 1907. The Finns elected their first woman MP; in Britain, women still had not got the vote.

22 December 1898, In Ireland, women were now allowed to sit on district coiuncils and town commissions.

4 April 1887, Susanna Salter became the world�s first woman mayor. She was elected at Argona, Kansas.

19 May 1879, Lady Astor, first woman to sit in the House of Lords, was born.

4 February 1868, Birth of Constance Markievicz, Irish Republican and first woman elected to the UK House of Commons.



25 September 1988, In the USA, Barbara Harris, a divorcee, was elected first woman bishop in the Anglican Church, to serve as Bishop of Massachusetts (inaugurated 11 February 1989).

3 June 1972, In Cincinnati, Sally Priesand was inaugurated as the first woman rabbi.

5 November 1921, Reverend Antoinette Brown Blackwell, the first woman ordained as a pastor, was born.

1919, In Britain the Sex Disqualification Removal Act opened all professions to women except the Church.


Space Travel

3 February 1995, Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen Collins became the first female space shuttle pilot, as Discovery took off from Cape Kennedy, Florida,

11 October 1984, Kathryn D Sullivan became the first woman to walk in space, from the Space Shuttle Challenger.

29 July 1984, Svetlana Savitskaya, first woman to walk in space, returned to earth, from the Salyut-7 space station.

25 July 1984, Soviet cosmonaut Svetlaya Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space.

18 June 1983, Sally Ride became the first woman in space, aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, with four male satronauts.



5 June 1988, Kay Cottee sailed into Sydney harbour, the first woman to sail solo round the world non-stop.

4 April 1981. Oxford won the boat race with the first ever lady cox, Sue Brown.

1977, In Britain, the Jockey Club accepted women members for the first time since it was founded in 1751 It�s all �male culture had previously persisted despite having the patronage of Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Mother.

18 May 1975, Japanese climber Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

28 July 1966, Florence Nagle, 70,became the first woman racecourse trainer.

28 December 1934, First women�s cricket test match held,in Australia.

19 July 1930, Miss EM Foster became the first woman to win the King�s Prize (National Rifle Association, Bisley).

3 October 1926, At Chiswick, London, Violet Percy became the first woman to run a marathon. She took 3 hours 40 minutes.

6 August1926, American Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel. It took her 14 hours 30 minutes to complete the crossing.

9 May 1908, The first motor race for women was held at Brooklands.

14 May 1900. Second Olympic Games began in Paris. Women were now allowed to compete. They had been barred in 1896.

13 June 1893, The first women�s golf championship was held, at Britain�s Royal Lytham course.

3 October 1811, The first women�s county cricket match, Hampshire vs. Surrey, was played at Newington.

9 January 1811, The first women�s golf tournament took place, in Scotland.

25 August1804, Alicia Meynell became the first known female horse jockey.

26 July 1745. The first recorded women�s cricket match took place at Gosden Common near Guildford. Hambledon Village played nearby Bramley.



1900, By 1900, England had 100,000 school teachers, three quarters of them women. By contrats, in 1870 there had been just 14,000 teachers in England, two thords of them male. Teaching in the late 1800s was one of the so-called �white blouse jobs� where womwn were becoming increasingly acceptable in, along with office secretarial.shorthand work and as shop assistants.


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