IT WAS not until 1977 that female governors were able to work in men's prisons. Before that, with only 13 women's prisons scattered throughout England and Wales, women seeking promotion were obliged to move around the country.

Out of a total 1,031 governors in the prison service, just 88 are women. At the five governor grades there are: 48 women at grade 5; 24 at grade 4; 10 at grade 3; 6 at grade 2, none at grade 1. The chief governor of a prison is selected from these grades, but not does not have to be grade 1.

Female officers have only been able to work in men's prisons since 1987, following a decision to employ male officers at Holloway where there was an acute shortage of female staff. There are three grades: principal, senior and officer.