ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Celebrating 100 years of women in chartered accountancy

In May 2020, ICAEW will mark a pivotal moment in our history’s advancement of access to the profession – the admittance of our first female member, Mary Harris Smith.

Mary joined the ICAEW following the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal Act) in December 1919. This Act was a significant step forward for women entering a range of professions as it stipulated that:

‘A person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to or holding any civil or judicial post or from entering or assuming or carrying on any civil profession or vocation’

A booklet telling the story of the first 100 years of female Chartered Accountants will be published in the autumn of 2019.

A global celebration

We want to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our members across the world. We will be holding a series of different events throughout 2019 and 2020 to mark the centenary in:

  • UK
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • The USA
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

Lasting commemoration of a female pioneer

To mark her tenacity, determination and impact on the profession, ICAEW has commissioned a portrait of Mary Harris Smith. An original work, this oil on canvas portrait by Toby Wiggins RP will be hung in Chartered Accountants’ Hall as a permanent way to honour her achievement and the many female members who follow in her footsteps.

Mary Harris Smith

Known portraits of Mary Harris Smith (from The Woman's Signal (1895), Daily News (1904), Pall Mall Gazette (1919), Daily Mirror (1919), Leeds Mercury (1920))

Economia centenary coverage

ICAEW President Fiona Wilkinson is leading the celebrations throughout her presidential year, June 2019 to May 2020, which fortuitously culminates in the month when we celebrate 100 years exactly of female membership at ICAEW.

Throughout Fiona’s presidential year, Economia will feature a special series of articles charting the journey of female Chartered Accountants.

Tell your story

The heart of our centenary campaign is to bring to light the stories of our members in chartered accountancy, so we can fully grasp the progress we’ve made and understand what more there is to do to achieve gender equality in accountancy.

We want to hear what barriers you’ve faced; how you’ve overcome barriers; and where you haven’t been so successful – the good and the bad. We are building a digital archive of our female members’ experiences – and we want to hear from you.

Contact us

If you’ve like more information on the centenary campaign, please contact project manager:
Julia Root-Gutteridge
Manager – Board Effectiveness