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Trailblazer for women’s rights Barbara Judge dies aged 73

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jane Mingay/Shutterstock (3940875b)
Lady Barbara Judge at her home in central London
Lady Barbara Judge, London, Britain - 02 Feb 2014
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jane Mingay/Shutterstock (3940875b) Lady Barbara Judge at her home in central London Lady Barbara Judge, London, Britain - 02 Feb 2014

An trailblazing advocate for women’s rights has died at the age of 73.

Barbara Judge was the youngest commissioner at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the first female director at Rupert Murdoch’s News International – despite being told to “stick to her knitting” by some.

Previously, BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour described her as “one of the best-connected women in Britain”.

Born Barbara Singer Thomas in 1946, she studied medieval history at Pennsylvania University, then law at New York University Law School.

She paid for her degree by taking on occasional modelling jobs and initially toyed with the idea of becoming an actress.

Image by Shutterstock. 

After graduating and joining the SEC, she pushed for the Tokyo Stock Exchange to allow overseas companies to buy seats, and helped to co-ordinate moves to open up US capital markets to foreign investors.

By doing so, the 33-year-old had ushered in the longest US stock market bull run of the 20th century.

Her work went on to take her across the globe – to Hong Kong as  the first female board executive director of Samuel Montagu & Co, a British merchant bank, and then to the UK.

Lady Barbara Judge at her home in central London. Shutterstock. 

In Japan Judge was known as the “snow lady”, in part due to her black suit, ruffle necked white blouse and long light hair tied up in a bun.

Her more conservative outfits were chosen so that people would “listen to what she was saying rather than look at what she was wearing”.

In more recent years, Judge continued to travel the globe as the UK’s business ambassador, chairwoman of the Astana Financial Services Authority in Kazakhstan, and as part of her work at Tepco.

 

Before she fell ill,  Judge maintained her work life – and kept her illness a secret to all but close friends and family.

“I didn’t want to die before I died,” she said.

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