17 Jun, 2024

Celebrating 100 years of female actuaries

By Natasha Carey, Senior Manager- Actuarial

Later this month, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (“IFoA”) will be coming together to celebrate 100 years since the first two females, Dorothy and Gladys, qualified as actuaries. The event will be hosted by Kalpana Shah, IFoA President and board member of RiverStone International’s UK entities, and is free to attend.

More details are here: https://actuaries.org.uk/100yearswomenactuaries/

The growth of female representation across the globe in different industries, professions and sports has been a hot topic in recent years – did you know:

  • The Paris 2024 Olympics will be the first Olympics to have 50% female athletes. 100 years ago, only 5% of athletes were female.
  • Currently, only 11% of the world’s astronauts are women.
  • In 1923, none of Noble Prize winners were female. In 2023, 36% were female.
  • 100 years ago, 33% of players competing in the singles tennis competition at Wimbledon were female. It is now 50%.
  • Female artists spent the most weeks at Number 1 in the UK Top 40 Singles Chart in 2023 (31 out of 52), the highest since records began in 1952.

Riverstone’s actuarial team was brought in-house during 2016 – there were no women in the team until 2018, however now 37% of actuarial-related roles are filled by females. Across the RiverStone Group, women take up 44% of all roles.

Some of the actuarial team will be attending the IFoA’s event and we recently got together to reflect on the topic and our experience of gender parity within the industry. Interestingly, the proportion of female members in the IFoA (34%, 2022/23) is broadly in line with the proportion of female students studying mathematical science subjects at UK universities (37%, 2017/18). This goes to show how much of an impact university demographics has on the industry – as we see increases in this over the coming years, we’ll hopefully see a higher proportion of females being represented in IFoA membership and the insurance industry.

It’s shocking to read that the headline used in the telegram published by the Daily Mirror in 1923 to announce the first two female actuarial qualifiers included the phrase ‘City Surprised’. It shows how far we’ve come as a profession and as an industry from a gender-parity perspective – one would hope that the city is no longer surprised every time a woman qualifies as an Actuary!


“On my actuarial science course at university there was a small proportion of female students. I was worried I would be the only female in my team when going into the workforce in 2020 and was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case when I joined Riverstone. More recently, I went to an Actuarial talk run by the London Market Students Group and was pleased to see a high proportion of females in attendance.”

Magalie Farine, Actuarial Associate


“I’ve worked with more senior female actuaries in the London market than females in other senior positions, e.g. underwriters, claims adjusters, finance officers etc. – are actuaries ahead of the rest of the market?”

Sarah Grimshaw, Actuary


“Emma Stewart is one of the speakers at the centenary event – she is the first female Chief Actuary of Lloyd’s. Soon I hope there will be a time when we no longer have to celebrate milestones such as the ‘first female’ or 100 year anniversaries, and being a woman, or a member of any other under-represented sector of the community, in the industry will not be news.”

James Wackrow, Group Chief Actuary

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