In the 19th century women had no place in national politics; they could not stand as candidates for Parliament and they were not even allowed to vote. It was assumed at the time that women did not need the vote because their husbands would take responsibility in political matters.
However, as a result of the industrial revolution, many women were in full-time employment, which meant they had opportunities to meet in large organised groups to discuss political and social issues – and from this, organised campaigns for women’s suffrage began.
For the next decade, the number of women’s suffrage campaigners grew as they fought for equal voting rights.
Today marks 100 years since a small portion of the UK’s female population were first granted the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act was adopted in February 1918, eventually paving the way for universal women’s suffrage in the country.
In 1928, after years of tireless campaigning, all women in the UK were granted equal voting rights, increasing the number of eligible female voters from 8 million to 15 million.
How the Suffragette movement has influenced equality campaigns today
Fast forward 100 years and we look back proudly on the Suffragette movement as a stepping stone to inspire women to continue the campaign for women’s rights and gender equality all over the world.
Here is a timeline of just a few of the incredible milestones that have been overcome in the last 100 years:
1922 – The Law of Property Act which allowed both husband and wife to inherit property equally
1958 – The Life Peerages Act which entitled women to sit in the House of Lords for the first time
1975 – The Sex Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training and implements the 1970 Equal Pay Act
1986 – Statutory maternity pay is introduced
1993 – Equality between women and men in higher education enrolment is reached
2003 – It becomes an offence for UK nationals/permanent UK residents to carry out female genital mutilation – even in countries where the practice is legal
So, who inspires us?
In the spirit of celebrating female empowerment, we asked the ladies of our office who inspires them and makes them want to break the glass ceiling.
12 women who inspire us:
Her Mother and Baroness Hale
Growing up my mother inspired me every day, seeing her approach life in the way she has, has driven me to follow her powerful example. She showed me the importance of having a complete education and a strong moral standing, equipping me to make a meaningful impact in whichever walk of life I chose to follow, through merit alone.
Also having studied Law, I found Baroness Hale of Richmond to be an inspiration for women in all fields. I attended her lecture on “Life in the Supreme Court” where I found her ideas and experiences both captivating and eye-opening.
She recently became the first woman to be appointed as the President of the UK’s Supreme Court, which is a vital step towards enhancing the representation of women in the judiciary. In this male-dominated field, her presence is a step towards gender diversity on the bench, especially as she continues to advocate for the consideration of the highest qualified women in the legal industry.
J K Rowling
She progressed from living as a single mother on state benefits to becoming the world’s first billionaire author of any gender. Alongside her literary success, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, a trust which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organisations that aid children, one parent families, and multiple sclerosis research.
I’m inspired by her dedication and determination, even after years of rejections from publishing houses and the many hurdles she faced in her personal life. She inspires me to continuously work hard to achieve my career goals and to never lose faith.
An activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, known for human rights advocacy – especially the education of women and children in northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement. Malala is an inspiration to myself and many other young women across the world, because of her determination and drive in campaigning for women’s rights (almost at the cost of her life).
An Irish political scientist and the first female Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. This appointment encapsulates hard work and intellect breaking a major patriarchal barrier. As an Irish woman who is also in a historically male-dominated industry, Louise’s achievements serve to remind me every day that we can belong and thrive in these spaces.
Judith Jarvis Thompson
I find her inspiring for several reasons. Firstly, as a woman working in the heavily male-dominated world of academic philosophy; philosophy often being the worst department for gender equality in universities, but also because of the impact her work has had on ethical discussion and even outside philosophical circles.
Mostly however I admire her arguments; her writing is well thought out, articulate, incredibly entertaining to read, and doesn’t shy away from controversial subject matter, which is so important in a subject that is often considered dense, irrelevant and elitist outside academic circles.
My acting hero, always graceful in her roles and a woman who puts 100% into everything she does. She is such a strong female figure in Hollywood, continuously cast in roles which are inspiring and often tell such an accurate and poignant account of history (such as her recent performance in The Post).
Oprah Winfrey is a massive inspiration for all women across the globe, proving that it doesn’t matter where you come from or how much money you have, hard work and determination is all you need to become successful.
Oprah grew up in poverty, but did not let her circumstances define her and now stands as one of the richest women in the world. She taught herself how to read and write at a very young age and recognised that education was a great tool to escape poverty. She could have easily accepted the hand she was drawn but she took it upon herself to change her life.
I personally take a lot from her work ethic and never allow external circumstances to control where I want to get to. She has proven to me and many others that you define your own destiny and that if you really want to change your life you can.
I’m inspired by her outspoken nature as an advocate for women’s rights in the workplace. As well as being the vice-chairman of West Ham, a successful author, newspaper columnist and television personality, she has also long been renowned for championing the cause of women in business and has repeatedly called upon her fellow female professionals to help those trying to make their way in the business world.
Her pioneering research into Radiotherapy resulted in her being the first person and only woman to win twice and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. A woman ahead of her time, who inspired myself, along with many generations of women to enter the world of science and continue to break boundaries.
Charlotte Bronte, grew up in a time when women and rights were two words rarely seen in the same sentence; and yet this seemingly ordinary woman became, unknowingly, one of the original champions of modern feminism. Through both her actions in life and her works Charlotte Bronte has not only informed but created many of the ideals which the suffragettes took forward in their campaigning 100 years after Bronte’s birth.
In May 1846 the three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne self-financed the publication of a collection of poems under their assumed names, Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The three sisters continued to write and Charlotte soon published Jane Eyre, which immediately received great acclaim as well as harsh criticism, it unsettled views of how women should act and behave.
The lessons I learnt from reading Jane Eyre as a child, and the inspiration I felt from Charlotte’s life has empowered me to push to have my talents recognised in my work – much like Jane. It gives me great joy to work in a company which recognising only my ability and hard work, without my gender being a consideration.
Not just a well-respected artist, but also a strong woman who was known to go against the norm. Frida painted about taboo topics at the time such as gender equality, self-expression, private female experiences and sexuality.
She is often considered as a ‘rebel’, having defied gender stereotypes, beauty standards and society’s expectations. At a young age, she insisted on attending a co-educational school, which was rather rare in those days and decided from there to live her life how she wanted. She wore male clothes, tied her hair back and famously left her eyebrows un-plucked – all against feminine expectations.
She inspired other women to just be themselves, regardless of what the expectations of media or society. She made women feel empowered by painting about pregnancy, miscarriages, menstruation and breast feeding, showing from the early 1900s onwards that these topics should be embraced. She continued her journey by openly expressing her bisexuality, which has made her an icon in the LGBT society, fighting for acceptance and tolerance.
She became on one of the most famous and inspirational females of this day and age, and she achieved that by being nothing but her pure self. She wasn’t afraid to challenge society’s views on taboo topics and has shown us that becoming successful doesn’t require following the crowd or trends.
Honestly, my mum. She is unstoppable. Her determination to be always positive and never give up, whether is at home or at the workplace is truly admirable to me. Her positivity is inspiring and despite the fact that she grew up in a very male-focused environment, she always fought her way through sexist stereotypes (something almost inconceivable, coming from a rural place in Moldova)
Her desire to always learn and improve herself is an example that I apply to the workplace every day. At the age of 52, she started to learn English by herself which motivates me to learn something new every day and never stop growing. This is crucial not only at the workplace but also for self- improvement, character building and for ensuring that you make the most of every moment in your day, and not just drifting through life. (which kind of aligns with Concilium values now that I think of it).
Finally, to close on a note from our CEO…
“At Concilium Search we do not consider gender, race, background or disability when making decisions on hiring or promoting members of staff; we have a policy of hiring the very best individuals who will make the best Consultants and promoting those people who have worked hard and deserve to progress. We have no gender pay gap, male and female members of staff are paid according to their efforts and not their gender.
This article comes at a time when we are remembering the efforts of the courageous women who fought for suffrage and won 100 years ago, but the women at Concilium Search are determined, hardworking, intelligent, thought leaders and therefore winners every day.”