Canada and The Twenties: Gender Equality

Women made many strides in their equality in the 1920’s.  For example, in Canada  the Person’s case caused quite the uproar.  The Person’s case began with Emily Murphy in 1916 being the first female judge under the British Empire; she faced a lot of backlash against lawyers who had been questioning her ability to decide verdicts. (Falk, Plante, Miller, Fiqueira, 2006.)  The argument came from the British North America Act for according to the act “They [women] were not considered persons under the British North America Act” (Falk, Plante, Miller, Fiqueira, Pg 76, 2006.)

The Famous Five was a group of Alberta women who argued that under the British North America Act “persons” included women (Falk, Plante, Miller, Fiqueira, 2006.)  Eventually after several years of debate The Famous Five (which consisted of Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby) won the case and it was officially ruled that women were considered persons under the act.  This was a major stepping stone in the recognition of women’s rights in Canada and while none of the famous five were able to get to Senate, if not for The Famous Five women likely would not have been able to get into the Senate (Falk, Plante, Miller, Fiqueira, 2006.)

Along with the Person’s case women were able to enter the workforce during The First World War.  Since many men had to leave their jobs during the war it allowed women to replace them and allow women to hold jobs that were exclusively for men.  “Most found familiar jobs as secretaries, clerks, typists and factory workers” (The Canadian Encyclopedia (2012). Status of Women)  However as mentioned previously women were able to hold more unconventional (unconventional at that time) jobs such as munitions and heavy industry.

While true women have made great strides in promoting equality on both sides there is still some work to be had when it comes to true equality.  Generally speaking, men find it easier to receive promotions and raises. As well, there seems to be a negative stigma on women who choose to lead and speak-up; for that matter, women who don’t conform to societal norms tend to receive said negative stigma.  It may no longer be 1920 and the times where women were considered broodmares are long gone; there is still much work to be done until women receive the equal rights they deserve.


Bright, K. (2013, April. 8). Gender Inequality in the Workplace. [Web Log Message]. Retrieved from

Canadian Encyclopedia (2012). Status of Women. Retrieved from:

Cranny, Moles (2001). Counterpoints: Exploring Canadian Issues. Pearson Education Canada Inc., Toronto, Ontario

J.A. Falk, Yvette P. , Jorda M. & Mark F. (2010).  Social Studies Eleven Student Workbook. Hazelmere Publishing  Surrey, British Columbia

Gender Equality [Photograph; “Gender Equality”.] At: (Accessed on 10.30.13)