The Sex (Disqualification) Removal Act 1919 widened employment opportunities for women and in particular allowed women to practise as solicitors and barristers. Dr Ivy Williams, the first women called to the bar, Helena Normanton, the first woman to practise at the bar and first women appointed King’s Counsel along with Rose Heilbron, the first woman to sit as a judge at the Old Bailey, were among the first women to benefit from this legislation.
In this interview I ask Dr Mari Takayanagi, Parliamentary Archivist who has researched this and other legislation affecting women’s lives and gender equality during 1900 to 1945, about the origins, implications and significance of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. Why was this Act passed such as short time after the First World War? What did women’s organisations think of the Act in 1919? Was it successful and what does it mean today?