We began to put this list of First British Women together as part of International Women’s Day 2014. It’s by no means a complete list, so if you’d like to add a name please complete our form.
Towards the end of 2015 I met Carrie de Silva, Principal Lecturer – Law and Taxation at Harper Adams University and discovered she’d put together a comprehensive list of “First Women” complete with images. Take a Look
A Brief History of Female Firefighters at Gordonstoun School in the early 1970s when girls were first admitted to the school. Submitted by Jacquetta Gomes, Female Buddhist Fire Chaplain.
Also check out Jane Robinson’s book Ladies can’t climb ladders – first professional women which was published in January 2020.
Dame Sarah Mulhally, Bishop of London, installed at St Paul’s Cathedral in May
Judith Cobham-Lowe OBE FRSA, first Female Master, Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
Cressida Dick, first female Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, London
Dani Cotton, first female Commissioner, London Fire Brigade
Katharine Viner, Editor in Chief, The Guardian
Rachel Treweek, First Diocesan Female Bishop, Church of England
Dame Libby Lane, First Female Bishop, Church of England
Jacquetta Gomes, Female Buddhist Fire Chaplain
Debby Ounsted CBE, first female Master, Worshipful Company of Mercers
Dorothy Saul-Pooley, first female Master, Worshipful Company of Air Pilots
Minette Batters, first female Deputy President National Farmers Union
Rachel Mahon, first female Organ Scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral, London
Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Pennny Thackray first female Submariners UK Navy
Louise Brooke-Smith, first female President Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Patrice Merrin (Canadian) first female NED at Glencore PLC (the last FTSE100 company to appoint a female director)
Judith Weir, first female in 400-year history of the position to become Master of the Queen’s Music
Dr Jacomijn van Haersolte-van Hof, first female appointed as both Director General and Executive Director, London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) since it was inaugurated in 1892.
Marin Alsop, first female to conduct Last Night of the Proms
De Bradshaw, first female Master, Worshipful Company of Plaisterers
Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, 686th Lord Mayor of the City of London and first female in the 21st Century (and the second in all time)
Commander Sarah West, first woman to be appointed to command a major warship in the Royal Navy
Eileen Cooper, first female Keeper of the Royal Academy
Ruth Reed, first female President Royal Institute of British Architects
Carolyn Kirby, first female President of The Law Society
Baroness Sarah Hogg, first female chairman of a FTSE100 company (3i)
1995 Jo Salter first female fighter pilot
1992 Sarah Young first female Manager on the London financial trading floors
1992 Betty Boothroyd first Speaker of the House of Commons
1990 Philomena Davidson first female President of Royal British Society of Sculptors
1988 Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss first woman appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal
1983 Dame Mary Donaldson first female Lord Mayor of the City of London
1979 Margaret Thatcher first female Prime Minister
1973 Burnice Reubens first woman to win Man Booker Prize.
1973 First women on London Stock Exchange trading floor.
1995 Pauline Clare first female chief constable
1965 Barbara Castle first female Minister of State (Transport)
1958 Hilda Harding first woman bank manager
1930 Amy Johnson became the first women to fly from Britain to Australia.
1929 Margaret Grace Bondfield first Cabinet Minster
1922 Irene Barclay first female chartered surveyor
1922 Carrie Morrison first female solicitor
1919 Nancy Astor (Viscountess Astor) first female MP (to take seat)
1918 Constance Markievicz first female elected MP (did not take up seat)
1916 first policewoman (with full powers) appointed
1913 Emily Dawson first woman magistrate
1908 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson first woman mayor
1898 Ethel Charles first woman to qualify as an architect
1895 Lilian Murray first women to qualify as a dentist.