Celebrating our female pioneers

In this blog I will be talking about a true pioneer and founder of women in the law. As I am originally from Birmingham, it is so inspiring to read that a fellow ‘Brummie’ was at the forefront of equality in the law. Not only was Mary Elizabeth Pickup the first woman in Birmingham to qualify as a solicitor, she was one of the first four women in England to qualify as a solicitor.

Mary Pickup achieved a BA degree from the University of Wales and immediately after the passing of the 1919 Act, became articled to her husband’s solicitors’ firm in Birmingham.

She had always been fascinated by the law and was convinced that there was a field open shouting for female solicitors. Mary dedicated herself to achieving that goal and with years of experience and her unquestionable intelligence, she achieved Honours in her final examinations and was awarded the highest mark of the group of the first four women solicitors.

Mary was not shy of campaigning for her beliefs; she would often address women’s meetings and literary societies where she would fight for equality, peace and the betterment of the lives of women and girls in the local community and worldwide. This is evident through the fact that Mary was elected as the President of the Birmingham Soroptimist Society.

Mary achieved all she did alongside raising her family and running a home. This is testament to her admirable energy, determination and passion; she was a true champion for equality and women’s rights; a real force to be reckoned with.

The legacy of Mary Elizabeth Pickup is remarkable, however the work for gender equality in the workplace continues today. Male Champions for Change is an organisation that aims to redefine men’s role in taking action on gender inequality.

The Male Champions for Change are campaigning to raise the profile of gender equality throughout careers so that it becomes normality. They have created a 2019 Toolkit that details how inequality is still present in the workforce and sets out an action plan to ensure that any inequality or discrimination is eradicated from the business. It is a campaign that is so important and should be adopted and adhered to by all businesses.

Women’s rights have come along way since the battles of Mary Elizabeth Pickup, however battles for equality still remain and it is so important that you do your bit in any way you can.

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