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Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders

Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders

The Pioneering Adventures of the First Professional Women


It is a myth that either of the World Wars liberated women.

The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919 was one of the most significant pieces of legislation in modern Britain. It marked at once political watershed and a social revolution; the point at which women of 21 and over were recognised in law as being as competent as men. But were they? What actually happened when this bill was passed? This is the story of what happened next.

Ladies Can't Climb Ladders focuses on the lives of six women - six pioneers - forging paths in the fields of medicine, law, academia, architecture, engineering and the church. Robinson's startling study into the public and private lives of these women sheds light not on the desires and ambitions of her subjects but how family and society responded to the working woman and what their legacy looks like today.

This book is written in their honour. It is a book about live subjects: equal opportunity, the gender pay gap, and whether women can expect, or indeed deserve, to have it at all.
'An important and crackingly good read.' - Telegraph


  • Arrestingly written…a stirring testament to unsung heroines
    The Observer

About the author

Jane Robinson

Jane Robinson is also the author of Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education and Ladies Can't Climb Ladders: The Pioneering Adventures of the First Professional Women. She was born in Edinburgh, grew up in North Yorkshire and read English at Somerville College, Oxford. She has worked in the antiquarian book trade and as an archivist, and is now a full-time writer and lecturer, specializing in social history through women's eyes. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical and Royal Geographical Societies, a Hawthornden Fellow, and a Senior Associate of Somerville College. In her spare time she collects books and designs pop-up Escape Rooms. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and two feline assistants, Emmy and Mrs Chippy. Trailblazer is her thirteenth book.
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