Over the Glass Cliff: The First Female Cabinet Minister, 1929–1953
In 1929, Margaret Bondfield was appointed the first ever woman Cabinet Minister. It was an unpropitious time: the Wall Street Crash had sparked off what came to be known as the Great Depression. Bondfield was Minister of Labour, responsible for unemployment benefits at a time of growing unemployment. This chapter examines how Bondfield and the Labour Government tried—and failed—to cope with this crisis. Eventually, the Labour Government resigned and Ramsay MacDonald formed a National Government. Margaret Bondfield refused to join it and lost her seat in the following election, never to return to Parliament. The chapter concludes with a discussion of her achievements.