Women and their Role in the Bank of England during World War II

In 1894, Janet Hogarth made history as the first woman to work in the Bank, where she was tasked with supervising a small team of women who sorted used banknotes. During World War I, the number of women clerks in the Bank increased significantly, with 1,309 women appointed by 1919. However, these women were paid less than their male counterparts and had a separate pay structure that remained in place until 1958.

During World War II, women clerks on the permanent staff who married were allowed to remain in the service in a temporary capacity at the discretion of the Governors. The range of work for women in the Bank expanded slightly during wartime, including an increase in basic clerical tasks as well as a reduction in roles focused on sorting and counting notes. From 1939 to 1944, there was a 15 percent decrease in employees involved in sorting and counting notes and a ten percent increase in clerical roles.

The marriage bar policy was enforced strictly by the Bank and civil service at the time. Women were required to leave their jobs upon marriage and receive a lump sum, which served essentially as a dowry. This policy was finally lifted in 1949 following post-war labor shortages. The salary scheme for men in the Bank was designed to provide a substantial increase around age 28 years old. In contrast, women were paid less than their male counterparts due to their separate pay structure which remained until 1958 when it was finally abolished

By Sophia Gonzalez

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