Ground-Breaking Female Civil Servants

Please click on the names below for more information about each person.  They are listed in the order in which they were born.

  • First female civil servant Jeanie Senior
  • Daughter of the Desert Gertrude Bell
  • Dame Bertha Phillpotts worked in the Swedish legation during the First World War.
  • Beryl Power became an Inspector in the Board of Trade and was subsequently one of the small number of women promoted to Principal out of the executive grades, and so reached the Administrative Class before the 1925 removal of the direct recruitment ban. 
  • Dame Freya Stark worked in the Middle East during the First World War.

The next three women were the first to be admitted to the Administrative Class of the Home Civil Service via the annual examination which was opened to women for the first time in 1925.

  • Dame Evelyn Sharp passed the exam in 1926 and was the first woman to become a Permanent Secretary - the most senior civil servant in a UK government department.
  • Margaret Rock joined the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park (now GCHQ Cheltenham) during the Second World War.
  • Margaret Thatcher favourite Jacqueline Hope-Wallace.
  • Professor Ann (Nancy) Lambton worked in Iran during the Second World War
  • PD James (later Baroness James) - the crime novelist - worked in the Home Office in the 1970s.
  • Queen of Spies Daphne Park
  • Dame Margaret Anstee left the Foreign Office to join the United Nations where she rose to become the first female Under-Secretary General.
  • Dame Anne Mueller - who fought debilitating illness whilst playing a key role in the development of economic and industrial policy
  • "Slightly subversive" Catherine Hughes


Martin Stanley

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