While on the foundations of their sex and

equal pay has a somewhat short legislative history, the conception that women
should collect equal pay for work of value equal to the work of the opposite
sex has much earlier roots. One example is the ‘match girls’ of Bryant and May who
insisted equal pay for equal value for work back in 1888, initiating an early instance
of strike action by female labour in the UK. Other female workers at the Bryant
and May factory had responded to the dismissing of their co-workers by refusing
to work under terms of employment that stated inferior pay than their male colleagues.

While this industrial action was successful, and headed to the creation of the Trades
Unions Congress, passing a resolution in favour of the standard of equal pay
for women, legislation in the UK that would inhibit such discriminatory
practices wouldn’t materialise until an entire century later.

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first piece of gender specific legislation related to employment was the Sex Disqualification
(Removal) Act, enforced in 1919 which made it illegal for women to be denied
access to a congregation of occupations and professions on the foundations of
their sex and marital status. Although this legislation was welcomed by equal
rights advocates, its practical results were insignificant. It wasn’t until
the post-war period that substantial procedures of rectification were discussed,
legislated and applied so that women’s place in the workplace was started to
become realised.