What Would Leading Suffragette Minnie Lansbury Make of Women’s Progress in the Workforce in the 21st Century?

Written by Ruth Gellert-Neale
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My great-great-aunt Minnie Lansbury was a leading suffragette in the early 1900’s with a clock named after her in Bow Road. She fought tirelessly for women to have the right to vote and be heard. Although it’s been almost a century since she was in front line action, I wonder what she would make of women’s progress in the workplace since. Has the clock stopped on women’s progress in the workplace?

Many organisations today have been challenged with the lack of women on their boards and in senior positions for many years—why is this?

Working women today, especially those with families, are put into a difficult predicament.  Assuming these women want to continue working, re-entering the workforce not only puts them behind their colleagues, but in a precarious position of balancing work and life.

In a recent study undertaken by HBR review, it was discovered that out of 54 high achieving women, 90% of them left their workplace because their organisation could not adapt to both their professional and familial needs.  For example, women working part time hours found that time extending to the point of becoming full time hours, subsequently leading to women feeling marginalised in their organisation.

Women struggle with being able to achieve equality in this regard.  Society tells women that they can and should work, but does not accommodate women who are re-entering the workforce after time away establishing a family.

Organizations must do more to change cultures, perceptions and the status quo so that women and men have choices in which they are supported to do what they feel is right for them, their career and also their family.

Minnie fought hard for equality during her short life as an activist and, as someone who spent time in prison, she fought till the end.  If she were alive today, she’d still be fighting for equality and wouldn’t rest until it happened.  We need to channel her passion and spirit to support equality in the workplace, just as she would have continued to do.


Ruth Gellert-Neale Polaroid2


Ruth is an HR professional developing her career and at present works in HR and Talent Development. She believes that HR should enable and drive changes within the organisation by working in collaboration with the business in order to shape the people strategy.

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