Theresa May flies the flag for women in Government





As the newly promoted Home Secretary, Theresa May becomes only the second woman after Jacqui Smith, to hold the role - considered one of the three major offices of state.







In opposition she most recently held the position of shadow work and pensions secretary, plus shadow women's minister - the latter a brief she will now continue to fulfil in Government.



Previously shadow Education and Employment Secretary in the William Hague front-bench line-up, she became shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, before becoming Tory party chairman in 2002.



Mrs May, 53, later held the positions of shadow Secretary of State for the Family, including Culture, Media and Sport in 2005, and shadow Leader of the House of Commons between 2005 and 2009.



A former City high-flyer, Mrs May opposed Labour's all-women short-lists and claims that all her political achievements are the result of her own efforts and abilities, insisting that gender is irrelevant.



She co-founded Women2Win to assist in training females to become Tory parliamentary candidates.



Her political career has not been a totally smooth ride. As party chairman she told the conference one year that the Tories were no longer the "nasty party", implying, to the fury of many of her colleagues, that they once were.



Mrs May, a vicar's daughter, was educated at Wheatley Park Comprehensive School and read Geography at St Hugh's College, Oxford.



She has a wealth of banking experience, as a Bank of England executive officer from 1977 to 1983 and a consultant for the Inter-Bank Research Organisation from 1983 to 1985, when she became head of the European Affairs Unit at the Association for Payment Clearing Services, until 1996 and Senior Adviser on International Affairs between 1996 and 1997.



Meanwhile, her political career was starting to blossom. She was a councillor on Merton Borough Council from 1986 to 1994, and unsuccessfully fought two parliamentary seats during that period, Durham North-West in 1992 and Barking at a 1994 by-election.



She was finally elected for the new seat of Maidenhead in May 1997.



While at Merton, she was chairman of the local education committee, something which almost certainly prompted Mr Hague to give her that portfolio in 1998.



Although not a flamboyant figure, Mrs May made her mark in that job. At the 1999 Conservative Party conference she promised "a bonfire of controls" to free schools from "the dead hand of local authorities".



On the Conservative Party website, she lists her proudest political achievement as bringing a minor injuries unit to St Mark's Hospital in Maidenhead and her interests as walking and cooking.



Mrs May is also known for her fondness for shoes after wearing a pair of leopard-print kitten heels to a Conservative Party Conference.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an experienced Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / New Business Development / Full or Part Time

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global Events and Exhibiti...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for someone wi...

Recruitment Genius: Building Manager / Head Porter

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific