• STV
  • MySTV

Celebrating Scots women on International Women's day

We take a look at both historical and modern women who have made an impact on Scotland.

Suffrage: Elsie Inglis founded the Scottish Women's Hospital Unit.
Suffrage: Elsie Inglis founded the Scottish Women's Hospital Unit. CC

International Women's Day is celebrated across the world on March 8, and is recognised by the United Nations.

The day was originally recognised in 1910 as part of the Suffrage movement.

In honour of the celebration, we take a look at both historical and modern women who have made an impact on Scotland.

Elsie Inglis

Dr Elsie Inglis
Public domain

Born in 1864, Elsie Inglis was a doctor and suffragette who founded the Scottish Women's Hospital Unit.

Born in India to Scottish parents, her father believed women should be educated to the same standard as men, and sent her to schools in Edinburgh and Paris.

After gaining her medical degree from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh, she opened a maternity hospital for the poor in 1894, called The Hospice.

During this time, she also served as the secretary of the Edinburgh National Society for Women's Suffrage.

During the First World War, Ms Inglis approached the Royal Army Medical Corps to offer them a ready-made Medical Unit staffed by qualified women. She was dismissed by the War Office, and told: "My good lady, go home and sit still".

She turned to the French, who happily took her up on her offer and she established a 650 bed hospital for soldiers injured in the Somme.

Ms Inglis died of cancer in 1917 and was buried in Dean Cemetery.

Victoria Drummond

Victoria drummond
cc

Living in relative comfort for the first 12 years of her life in Errol, Perth and Kinross, Victoria Drummond was an unlikely candidate for the first female marine engineer.

After her family lost their money in the 1906 stock market crash, all four of the Drummond children were encouraged to work as children.

Despite being presented at court in February 1913, and being the God-daughter of Queen Victoria, in 1915, Ms Drummond began her apprenticeship at the Northern Garage, South Street, Perth.

By 1924, Ms Drummond had secured her first job as an engineer aboard the passenger ship Anchises, making four journeys to Australia and one to China.

Due to being a woman, The Board of Trade failed her engineer exams 31 times in the years leading up to the Second World War, admitting that it was solely because she was female to a close friend of Ms Drummond.

Despite a desperate need for engineers during the war, she was still declined, being told it was too dangerous for a female.

On the morning of Sunday 25 August 1940, Ms Drummond was aboard Bonita - a cargo ship - in the North Atlantic when Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor aircraft attacked.

Ms Drummond was on watch and immediately ordered the fireman and greaser to join her on the starting platform ready in case they needed to escape. Near misses split the main water service pipe feeding the boilers.

Fuel oil started leaking from somewhere, hitting Ms Drummond in the face and closing one of her eyes. She ordered her fireman and greaser to get out of the engine room in case they needed to abandon ship.

Ms Drummond remained alone at her post, and they were able to get the ship safely back to land.

For this, she was awarded an MBE and the Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea.

Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
CC

Born in December 1780, Mary Sommerville was the first female to be elected to the Royal Astonomical Society in 1835.

Raised in Jedburgh, she studied maths and astronomy, encouraged by her second husband, Dr William Sommerville.

She was credited with being amongst those who helped discover Neptune.

Anne Dyer

anne dyer
The Scottish Episcopal Church

In 2018, Anne Dyer became the first female Bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and serves Aberdeen and Orkney.

Reverend Dyer, a strong supporter of gender rights, officiated at a same-sex marriage in October.

The appointment was protested by several members of the church due to her gender, her support of same-sex marriage and the way in which she was appointed.

In normal circumstances, the diocese board select the bishop. However, when one can not be agreed upon, canon law states that the church can then make the decision.

The electoral committee in Aberdeen and Orkney failed twice to choose from a shortlist of candidates, so Reverend Dyer was appointed.

She was consecrated a bishop on March 1, 2018, during a service at St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen.

The Edinburgh Seven

Sophia Jex-Blake
CC

The Edinburgh seven were a group of women who were the first females to be admitted into a university degree programme in Britain.

Sophia Jex-Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson and Emily Bovell were admitted to study medicine at Edinburgh University in 1869.

The move was met with much criticism and even caused a riot on the streets of Edinburgh.

The anarchy climaxed at the Surgeons' Hall riot, where the seven women appeared to attend an anatomy exam.

The were verbally abused and had objects thrown at them.

Their campaign put the rights of women to a university education on the national political agenda, which eventually resulted in legislation to ensure that women could study medicine at university in 1876.

Katharine Marjory, the Duchess of Atholl

Katharine Marjory
CC

In 1923, the Duchess of Atholl became the first Scottish female MP and served in a Conservative government.

Born in Edinburgh in 1874, Ms Marjory married John Stewart-Murray in 1889, becoming a Duchess upon Murray's father's death in 1917.

From 1923 to 1938, she was the Scottish Unionist MP for Kinross and West Perthshire.

Known as Kitty to her friends, the Duchess was largely unpopular within her party for her political views.

She resigned the Conservative Whip first in 1935 over the India Bill and again in 1938 in opposition to Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement of Adolf Hitler.

She was also very vocal in her criticism of the Soviet Union's regime.

Nicola Sturgeon 

Nicola Sturgeon
PA

On November 19, 2016, Nicola Sturgeon became the first female leader of the Scottish Parliament.

Born on July 19, 1970, Ms Sturgeon joined the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) in 1986.

In 1999, Sturgeon was elected as a Member of the Scottish Government as a listed MSP for Glasgow.

On 22 June 2004, John Swinney resigned as leader of the SNP, and Nicola Sturgeon ran for election as depute leader of the party, with Alex Salmond as leader.

Following Alex Salmond's resignation in 2016 after the party's independence campaign was defeated, Nicola Sturgeon was elected the leader of the SNP and subsequently the First Minister of Scotland.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.