Skip to main content

Timeline

                                               

1790

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstoncraft

1818

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

1845-1945 First Wave Feminism

1847

Jane Eyre (UK)

1855

Lucy Stone becomes first woman on record to keep her own name after marriage, setting a trend among women who are consequently known as "Lucy Stoners." (USA)

1868

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony begin publishing The Revolution, an important women's movement periodical. (USA)

1872

Charlotte E. Ray, Howard University law school graduate, becomes first African-American woman admitted to the US bar. (USA)

1873  

Bradwell v. Illinois: Supreme Court affirms that states can restrict women from the practice of any profession to uphold the law of the Creator. (USA)

1873

Congress passes the Comstock Law, defining contraceptive information as "obscene material." (USA)

1914

Margaret Sanger calls for legalization of contraceptives in her new, feminist publication, The Woman Rebel, which the Post Office bans from the mails. (USA)

1920

In the US, the 19th Amendment to the constitution grants women the right to vote

1929 Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

1935

Mary McLeod Bethune organises the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women’s groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism and sexism

1938 Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca

 

1950-1958s     Second Wave Feminism

1950

India gives votes to women.

1950

The photographer Grace Robertson (born 1930) is taken on by Picture Post,. She begins her documentation of everyday life in Britain.

1950

Doris Lessing (born 1919) publishes her first novel The Grass is Singing.

1951

Molecular biologist Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) takes up her post at King's College and becomes key in the discovery of DNA.

1952

American aviator Jacqueline Cochrane (1910 - 1980) is the first woman to break the sound barrier.

1953

Equal pay is introduced for women teachers.

1953

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900- 1990) becomes the first woman president of the United Nations General Assembly.

1953

After being internationally acclaimed for many years, artist Frida Kahlo (1910-54) is finally invited to exhibit in her own country, Mexico.

1953

Lita Rosa becomes the first woman in Britain to reach Number One in the charts with How much is that Doggy in the Window.

1953

Ann Davison (born 1912) becomes the first woman to sail single-handed across the Atlantic.

1953

American sex therapist Alfred Kinsey publishes his highly controversial report, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female.

1954

Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) publishes her first novel, Under the Net.

1955

Rosa Parkes (born 1913) makes history on 1 December when she refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a bus, in Montgomery , Alabama . This sparks off the black civil rights movement in America.

1955

Barbara Mandell is the first woman to read the news on ITN.

1955

The government agrees to equal pay for civil servants, though this is not fully implemented until 1973.

1955

On 13 July convicted murderer Ruth Ellis becomes the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

1956

Egypt and Tunisia give votes to women.

1956

The National Childbirth Trust is founded to prepare couples for childbirth and parenting.

1957

Journalist Mary Stott (1907 - 2002) sets up the Guardian Women's Page. She remains editor until 1972.

1958

Claudia Jones (1915-1964) sets up the West Indian Gazette, and the Notting Hill Carnival.

1958

Hilda Harding becomes the first woman bank manager at Barclays in Hanover Street , London.

1958

For the first time ultrasound is available to examine unborn babies.

1958

 

The Life Peerages Act entitle women to sit in the House of Lords for the first time. On 21 October Baroness Swanbourough, Lady Reading and Baroness Barbara Wooton are the first to take their seats.

1967 Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

 

1970s-today     Third Wave Feminism

Key Events from 1970 to 1979

1970

The first national meeting of the women's liberation movement in Britain takes place at Ruskin College.

1970

The Equal Pay Act enshrines in law the principal of equal pay for women.

1970

The Miss World Contest is disrupted by women's liberation protesters. Armed with flour bombs, stink bombs and water pistols.

1970

Germaine Greer publishes The Female Eunuch.

1970

Kate Millet publishes Sexual Politics.

1970

Black American novelist Maya Angelou publishes the first part of her autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

1970

Annie Nightingale becomes the first woman DJ on Radio 1.

1970

Lloyds of London Insurance admit its first female underwriters.

1971

Switzerland finally gives votes to women in national elections. However, some cantons do not allow women to vote in local elections until 1994.

1971

On 6 March over 4000 women take part in the first women's liberation march in London.

1971

The USA passes a law banning sex discrimination in employment.

1972

American feminist Gloria Steinem (born 1934) launches Ms Magazine.

1972

Five formerly all-male colleges at Oxford University open their doors to women.

1972

Nawal El Saadawi (born 1931) publishes her controversial Women and Sex, the first book to challenge the position of women in Arab society.

1972

Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe launch Spare Rib, Britain's first feminist magazine.

1972

Erin Pizzey sets up the first women's refuge, in Chiswick.

1974

Contraception becomes free to women in the UK.

1974

Virago is set up by the publisher, Carmen Callil. Life as We Have Known it, its first title, is published in 1975.

1974

The Women's Aid Federation is set up to bring together refuges for battered women that have been springing upthroughout Britain.

1975

Several key pieces of legislation are passed: The Sex Discrimination Act, which came into force on December 29 th 1975. This makes it illegal to discriminate against women in education, recruitment and advertising; the Employment Protection Act introduces statutory maternity provision and makes it illegal to sack a woman because she is pregnant; the Equal Pay Act takes effect.

1975

Child Benefit replaces Family Allowances.

1975

Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei becomes the first woman to climb Everest.

1975

Rosemary Murray becomes the first woman Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge.

1975

Margaret Thatcher (born 1925) is elected leader of the Conservative Party.

1975

First lady of racing, trainer Jenny Pitman has her first win.

1976

The Equal Opportunities Commission comes into effect to oversee the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts.

1976

The Domestic Violence Act enables women to obtain a court order against their violent husband or partner.

1976

Anita Roddick (born 1942) opens the first Body Shop in Brighton.

1976 Margaret Atwood, Lady Oracle

1977

International Women's Day is formalised as an annual event by the U.N General Assembly.

1977

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan win the Nobel Peace Prize for their peace campaign in Northern Ireland.

1977

The first Rape Crisis Centre opens in London.

1978

On 25 July Louise Brown becomes the world's first test tube baby when she is born at Oldham near Manchester.

1979

On 4 May Margaret Thatcher is elected Britain's first woman Prime Minister.

1979

Dame Josephine Barnes is elected the first woman president of the British Medical Association.

1979

'The Dinner Party' by American artist Judy Chicago is first put on show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

1979 Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber

 1980-1989

1980

The 300 Group is founded by Lesley Abdela to push for equal representation of women in the House of Commons.

1981

Baroness Young becomes the first woman leader of the House of Lords.

1982

The Committee of Enquiry into Human Fertilization is established under the chairmanship of Mary Warnock (born 1924).

1982

Caryl Churchill's feminist play Top Girls is first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

1983

American zoologist Diane Fossey (1932-1985) publishes Gorillas in the Mist about her work in Rwanda.

1983

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge admits women for the first time in its 630 year history.

1984

The Equal Pay Act (Equal Value Amendment) introduces equal pay for work of equal value.

1984

The designer Katherine Hamnett makes headlines when she arrives to meet Margaret Thatcher wearing an anti-nuclear T-shirt.

1985

Kim Cotton became Britain 's first surrogate mother.

1986

The Sex Discrimination Act (Amendment) enables women to retire at the same age as men. It also lifts the legal restrictions which prevent women from working night shifts in factories.

1986

Theatre director Yvonne Brewster sets up Talawa Theatre Company, Britain 's first black theatre company.

1987

Diane Abbot is Britain 's first black woman MP.

1987

Artist Helen Chadwick is the first woman to be short listed for the Turner Prize.

1988

Benazir Bhutto (born 1953) becomes the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan.

 

1989-present

1990

Independent taxation for women is introduced. For the first time married women are taxed separately from their husbands.

1990

Mary Robinson is elected the first woman President of Ireland.

1991

Stella Rimmington becomes the first woman to head MI5.

1991

Patricia Scotland is the first black woman to become a QC.

1991

Olympic coach, Dame Marea Hartman becomes the first woman president of the Amateur Athletic Association.

1991

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese human rights activist, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1992

The 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women.

1994

The government introduces "Changing Childhood" to make maternity services more focused on the individual woman.

1994

The Church of England ordains its first women priests at Bristol Cathedral. Thirty two women are ordained.

1994

A House of Lords ruling gives equal rights to part-time workers.

1994

As part of the Criminal Justice Act, marital rape is declared illegal in the UK.

1995

Women from 185 countries meet in Beijing, China, for the fourth World Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations.

1997

Mary Robinson is appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the highest rank any woman has held in the UN.

1999

A new law on parental leave enables both men and women to take up to 13 weeks off to care for children aged under five.

1999

Merlyn Lowther is appointed Chief Cashier at the Bank of England. Her signature would now be the one on all bank notes.