Professional Women:
the public, the private, and the political

2019 marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act in Britain, which opened all ‘civil professions or vocations’, including the civil service and legal profession, to women. It was a significant landmark – but neither a beginning or an end – in the history of professional women.

This conference will explore not only the significance of the 1919 Act, but also the ‘professional woman’ in all periods, nations and forms. She is found far beyond ‘the professions’, in fields ranging from agriculture to industry, from education to the arts. She has worked with or without official sanction and recognition, in widely varying conditions, for typically unequal wages. She has created her own professional niches, from domestic trades to feminist organisations – or forced her way into traditionally male domains. Her professional life has been influenced by sex and gender, but also by class, ethnicity and race, sexuality, disability, age, nationality and family situation.

We look forward to welcoming established scholars, postgraduate researchers, independent scholars, museum curators, archivists, local history groups and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines researching professional women in Britain and elsewhere in the world.

This conference is hosted at LSE Library, the home of the Women’s Library, on 6-7 September 2019. Keynote speakers are: Dr Mari Takayanagi, Dr Helen Glew and Professor Angela V John. There will be a wine reception at Middle Temple on 6 September 2019.

LSE Campus map is available here. The Library is LRB on the map.

Information about travelling to LSE is here.

The conference fee does not include accommodation. A list of hotels is here.

All bookings are non-refundable.

Any enquiries, please contact Gillian Murphy (

Final conference programme is here.