But what was it like for those first women who joined such a male dominated space? Well, they were certainly less respected than their male counterparts. An internal memo from 1920 gives us an insight:
'We are of opinion that…men will get through considerably more work than an equal number of women; & that…the standard of their work will be higher…The value of the work of Women Clerks is lessened because of their frequent absences, because they are emotional & easily upset…there is a tendency amongst the younger ones not to look upon their work as their career in life.' 3
Even if they’d wanted to, women couldn’t have a long-term career with the Bank if they likewise wanted to get married. Until 1949 women were made to resign upon marriage. Just before this rule was lifted, nearly 80% of the women clerks at the Bank had voted for the removal of this rule in an internal ballot. So maybe they did see a job at the Bank as a career after all…
As time went on, greater equalities between men and women working at the Bank of England were achieved. Under the Bank’s Scheme of Classification 1958, women’s salaries were increased so they were not less than 75% of men’s in the same position. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 and two years later, equal pay was fully introduced at the Bank of England.
So, despite having the Roman goddess Britannia as its figurehead since the Bank was founded in 1694, it took a while for women to find their place within the walls of the Bank of England itself. Happily, things are changing these days. The Bank of England employed its first female banknote designer Debbie Marriott in 1990, and in 1999 Merlyn Lowther was made the first female Chief Cashier. In 2003, Rachel Lomax was the first female Deputy Governor.