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175 years of women's activism in the EIS

Celebrating 175 years of activism, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) is today Scotland's largest teaching union. Established for the 'promotion of sound learning and the benefit of teachers', the EIS remains a campaigning, growing and highly effective trade union.

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This article belongs to the Women and Workplace Struggles: Scotland 1900-2022 collection.

Silhouettes of people holding a variety of protest banners


On 18 September 1847, around 600 teachers from across Scotland, gathered together in the hall of the High School, Edinburgh, to establish the Educational Institute of Scotland, making it also the oldest teaching union in the world.

In 2022 the EIS celebrated the power of our women members in making us 175 years strong. 

             Banner in purple, yellow and red showing 175 years strong, the anniversary of the EIS

As part of International Women's Day 2022, the EIS launched the first in a series of posters looking at our history, and the fight for women’s equality.

                    Eis poster, showing history of EIS over 175 years

The second poster in the series shows important points on the journey to equal rights in the workplace.

                    EIS poster showing improvements in the workplace over the 175 years in its history

The third poster in the series shows women’s issues brought to the fore, and EIS activism on a scale like never before! The great pay campaign of 1984-1986 saw EIS win against Thatcher’s government policy on teacher pay.

                      EIS poster no 3, shows issues brought to the fore during the 175 years and the activism  involved.

The final poster in the series follows EIS from 2000 to 2022. Highlighting the intersectional aspects of the equality agenda and the EIS position as a leading voice for social justice in Scotland. That same year, the EIS elected its first ever woman General Secretary, Andrea Bradley, a former English Teacher.

                       EIS final poster, showing intersectional aspects of the equality agenda and EIS fight for equal rights.

References, sources and links

The EIS 175th anniversary book and EIS posters.

 The materials presented here and in the accompanying links were compiled by a group of women activists at the EIS. If you would like to contact the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) for more information, please email Pauline McColgan at or visit  



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