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1930-1939

fter the euphoria of the twenties, the thirties were a less vibrant decade for women.

The Depression meant that they were increasingly encouraged back into the home as jobs for men became scarce. The BBC, which had prided itself on being a modern organisation, introduced a marriage bar in 1932, bringing it in line with the teaching profession and the civil service. This meant that married women were no longer employed and if you were to marry, you had to resign.

In the world of the arts, however, women were making better progress. Ballet was thriving under Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois, and the singers Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday were making their debuts. The decade also saw Britain 's first woman police inspector, the first Oxbridge professor and the first woman commissioner of prisons.

A new hero was born when Amy Johnson successfully flew to Australia in 1930. After taking off from Croydon airport, the world held its breath as she made an emergency landing in the desert in a sand storm, crashed her plane in India and got lost amongst tribes people on a Pacific island. When she finally touched down in Australia, she was an international celebrity.



1930

The famous Lyons Cafe waitresses are nicknamed "nippies" after 1200 of them serve at a Freemasons' banquet.

  

1930

The Women's League of Health and Beauty is founded by Mary Bagot Stack (1883-1934).

  

1930

On 5 May Amy Johnson  (1903-1941) takes off on her solo flight from England to Australia, the first by a woman.

  

1930

The modern dance pioneer Marie Rambert (1888-1982) sets up her Ballet Club.

  

1930

The birth control pioneer, Helena Wright (1887-1982) is one of the founders of the National Birth Control Council, later the Family Planning Association (FPA).

  

1931

The theatre manager Lilian Baylis  (1874-1937) re-opens Sadler's Wells Theatre as a place to showcase new ballet and opera. As part of this, Ninette de Valois  (1898-2001), founds the Vic-Wells Ballet.

  

1932

On 20 May Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo in a 15 hour flight.

  

1932

Lilian Wyles is appointed the first woman Chief Inspector in the police force. She joined London's Metropolitan police in 1919 and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 1922.

  

1932

In line with the teaching profession and the civil service, the BBC introduces a marriage bar, and no longer employs married women, except under exceptional circumstances.

  

1933

Sheila Borrett becomes the first woman radio announcer.

  

1933

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) makes her first recording with Benny Goodman.

  

1934

Barbara Hepworth  (1903-1975) sculpts 'Mother and Child'.

  

1935

The British Federation of Business and Professional Women is founded with Lady Astor  as its first president.

  

1935

Dame Lilian Barker (1874-1955) is appointed Assistant Commissioner of Prisons with responsibility for all female inmates.

  

1936

Elizabeth Cowell becomes the first woman television announcer. 

  

1936

The artist, Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) becomes a full member of the Royal Academy of Arts. But she has to wait until 1967 for an invitation to the annual dinner, the first time lady members were admitted.

  

1936

The geographer, Phyllis Pearsall (1906-1996) publishes her A-Z of London.

  

1936

The acclaimed French singer, Edith Piaf (1915-1963), makes her first recording.

  

1936

The first Tampax tampons go on sale, invented by Doctor Earle Haas in 1929.

  

1937

 The Matrimonial Causes Act extends the grounds on which divorce could be granted to include wilful desertion, cruelty, incurable insanity and habitual drunkenness.

  

1938

The Married Women's Association is set up by Edith Summerskill (1901-1980) to promote equality in marriage.

  

1938

The Women's Voluntary Service for Civil Defence (later the Women's Royal Voluntary Service) is set up by Lady Stella Reading  (1894-1971).

  

1938

The Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the women's army, is formed.

  

1938

The art collector, Peggy Guggenheim (1898 - 1980) opens her Guggenheim-Jeune gallery in London to exhibit avant-garde art.

  

1938

The Grace Darling National Memorial Museum opened 100 years after the Victorian heroine saved the lives of 9 shipwrecked passengers and crew in a courageous lifeboat rescue

  

1939

Dorothy Garrod (1892 - 1968) is appointed the first female professor at Oxbridge when she takes over the Chair of Archaeology at Cambridge.

  

1939

The outbreak of the Second World War  has a huge effect on women's lives. 

  

1939

The Women's Land Army is re-launched under the leadership of Lady Gertrude Denman.

  


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