We need more plaques for women!

During this year’s International Women’s Day, we focused on why cities across the UK need to invest in women, using plaques.

Plaques are a permanent and long-term solution to recognise and celebrate a person, moment or event and we believe more need to be dedicated to women.

We were inspired to research the number of plaques dedicated to women after reading that London has twice as many statues showcasing animals than women.
This perplexed us and was disheartening but unfortunately wasn’t surprising.
So, we wanted to explore plaques.

Plaques In Nottingham and the UK for women

Plaques come in different colours depending on which city or area you’re in, however, blue plaques are the most recognisable ones when people think of plaques. The purpose of them is to commemorate, remember or celebrate a person, event or building.
Plaques in our home city, Nottingham, astounded us. Using information from the Nottingham Women’s History Group and Open Plaques as well as doing our own research, we discovered that 9 out of 97 plaques were for women.
Breaking the numbers down, that’s 49.98% of plaques for men, 41.23% for events or other and 9.28% for women.
We also found that two of the plaques that were dedicated to women were group plaques, meaning they named more than one woman. None of the men’s plaques were like this and even one man had three plaques across the city.

 

The women who are celebrated on plaques in Nottingham are:
Alma Reville
Constance Shacklock OBE
Dorothy Whipple
Helena Brownsword Dowson, Mary Ball and Caroline Harper
Dame Laura Knight
Henrietta Carey
Helen Kirkpatrick Watts
Nottingham Women: City Council (Helena Dowson, Caroline Harper, Winifred Joan Case, Betty Higgins, Eunice Campbell-Clark, Lilian Greenwood, Merlita Bryan, and Nadia Whittome.
Hilda Dowson
 
In other major UK cities, the number of plaques for women is similar with:
London – 15%
Manchester – 10%
Birmingham – 5% (20 plaques out of 400)
Glasgow – 3%
Leeds – 12%

 

Our message along with our research is in no way saying the plaques dedicated to men or events and others are devoid or invaluable – because they are as important. However, we know that there are women across the nation who need to be given the same chance and celebration with a plaque. It’s about equity and inclusion – everyone should be recognised, full stop.

Taking Action Into Our Own Hands

So, while we’re not plaque makers, we wanted to take action to showcase the importance of investing in women in all types of ways, including making plaques for them. We selected several women from the extensive list of brilliant women from Nottingham who we think deserve a plaque. You can see the plaques we made and temporarily placed across the city here:
Play Video
The women we featured in the video on physical plaques were:
Vicky Lee McClure OBE: ‘Recognised for her contribution to TV and Film’
Mary Earps: ‘2023 World Cup Golden Glove Winner & England Lioness Goalkeeper’
Margaret Humphreys: ‘Recognised for her life-changing work in child protection and adoption services’
Emily Campbell: ‘The place where Emily Campbell, Team GB Champion, grew up’
Paris Lees: ‘Recognised for her journalistic and campaigning work’
Professor Laura Serrant OBE: ‘Celebrated for her work in nursing and medical research’
Nadia Whittome: ‘Labour MP for Notts East, Recognised for her political work and campaigning’
The other women we featured on virtual plaques were:
Samantha Morton: Award-winner for her work as an actress and director
Rebecca Adlington: Record-breaking competitive swimmer
Maid Marian: the heroine in the Robin Hood legend folklore
Jayne Torville: British professional ice skater and dancer
Gurmit Kaur MBE: First Asian woman to become a police inspector in Nottingham
Su Pollard: Recognising her achievements in TV, music and authored work
Ivy Matthews: The first woman to become Lord Mayor of Nottingham
Judy Naake: Recognised for her Entrepreneurial work. ‘queen of self-tan’
Marian Cripps, Baroness Parmoor: Recognised for her activism work and campaigning
Lucy Worsley OBE: British historian, author, curator and television presenter
Vesta Tilley (Matilda Alice Powles): Began her performing acts career in Nottingham
Vicki Feaver: Award-winning poet
Corinne Drewery: Recognised for her work in music
Hilda Lewis: an author who wrote numerous novels living in Nottingham
Florence Boot, Lady Trent: Recognised for her philanthropy work for women’s rights and education in Nottingham
Deborah Jayne Bestwick MBE: Recognised for her work in the gaming industry
Becky Downie: British Artistic Gymnast
Ellie Downie: British Artistic Gymnast
Dame Asha Khemka: Principal & Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College 2006 – 2018
Bella Ramsey: Recognised for her contribution to TV and Film
Clare Hammond: Award-winning concert pianist
Barbara Erskine: an author whose book has sold three million copies worldwide
Anne Briggs: Recognised for her work in music and performing arts
There are many more women across Nottingham and the UK who have achieved and are doing brilliant things. We encourage you to research the women in your city and learn about them.
We know that small actions like raising awareness will and can snowball into huge tangible positive change in our wider society, within organisations and communities.
We encourage you all to invest in women – whether that’s buying from a woman-owned business, using your privilege and power to support them, celebrating them and recognising them when and where they are so often overlooked.
Keep pushing for change, beyond March and IWD!

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