Women and teaching

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Women teacher

Last updated: 10 March 2011

The educating of future generations has long been a popular career choice for Welsh women.

Until the Sex Disqualification Removal Act was passed in 1919, no married women were allowed to work as teachers.

The act should, in theory, have meant greater equality for women entering the profession, but in the 1920s, working women were frowned upon as there were so many men on the dole.

The authorities used 'marriage bars' to prevent married women working as teachers. This rule meant that if a woman teacher married, she had to resign from her job; if she was already married, she was sacked.

In July 1922, Rhondda Education Authority got rid of 63 married women teachers. The teachers took the authority to court, but they lost their case.

Some women found a way around the marriage bars by marrying in secret and then living apart from their husband, or by having a very long engagement. Marriage bars in teaching weren't lifted until 1944.

Wales continued to produce women keen to enter the teaching profession. In 1965, 40% of female graduates from the University of Wales headed straight back to the classroom, as teachers. There were so many teachers in Wales that many had to seek employment over the border, in English schools.


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