As we enter a new decade and wave goodbye to Backhouse Jones’s 200th year of advising the ever-changing PCV and commercial vehicle sectors, it seems fitting to acknowledge another milestone, namely 100 years of women in law.
Just a few years after the end of the First World War and only one year on from being able to vote, new legislation called the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 (Act) came in. This enabled women to become barristers, solicitors, magistrates and jurors for the first time. Women were also allowed to join other professions, such as accountancy and they were also permitted to take higher positions in the civil service. Although there were still some barriers in place, this change was a major step forward at a time when nothing was staying the same.
Although some may say there is still much to be done to afford equality to all, 100 years on and things have moved on a long way in all respects since 1919. Women feature on numerous plc boards, are heading up many legal and accountancy practices and we mustn’t forget that the UK has also seen two female Prime Ministers since the Act came into force. At Backhouse Jones, 52 per cent of the solicitors and trainee solicitors are in fact women (although it is debatable if this is a typical example).
However, it is interesting to note that in the transport and logistics sector, women still comprise less than 8% of the workforce and only 2% of HGV drivers are women. Many cite the unsociable hours and long periods away from home as being incompatible with a family life as possible explanations for this shortage. In a sector which needs to employ an additional 1.2 million people by 2022, encouraging more people of both sexes would seem to be a logical way to bridge this gap. However, with the advancement of technology with the introduction of innovations like driverless vehicles, who knows what the next 100 years may bring.
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