Leading article: A woman's place is with the comrades


If it is a long way from the traditional image of the burly union firebrand to the first female leader of the Trades Union Congress, the incongruence speaks volumes about how the world has changed.

Frances O'Grady's promotion to the TUC's top job is not only evidence of the – albeit slow – increase in the number of women at the top of their professions. Perhaps more importantly, it also sets the seal on the transformation of the workforce. Once, the most unionised industries were those built on the brawn of the miner, say, or the steelworker. No more. Taken together, the influx of female workers and the tilt towards services have changed the complexion of the economy. And it is in the public sector, where women are the majority, that unions have flourished.

A female TUC leader is more than appropriate, then. The only question for Ms O'Grady is whether she is happy being a brother?