They were meant to welcome a new era of fairness and opportunity for all. Instead, a minister's remarks have prompted debate over the effect of women's entry into higher education and the professions. In a briefing to journalists ahead of the government's social mobility strategy, David Willetts, the universities minister, appeared to suggest that feminism had made it harder for working-class men to get ahead in life.
Asked what was to blame for a lack of social mobility, the Daily Telegraph quoted him saying: "The feminist revolution in its first-round effects was probably the key factor. "Feminism trumped egalitarianism. It is not that I am against feminism, it's just that is probably the single biggest factor."
His remarks sparked a wave of criticism, and Mr Willetts made it clear that he supported the move of women into the workplace and higher education. But to some the notion that more jobs for females equals fewer opportunities for males will be a convincing one. Certainly, there is no question that the number of female workers in the UK has increased significantly over the past four decades.
Labour Force Survey estimates suggest that the employment rate for women aged 16 to 59 rose from 56% in 1971 to 73% in 2004. Whereas in 1971 there were nine million women over the age of 16 in work, by 2004 that figure stood at 13 million. At the same time, social mobility for men appears to have fallen back over the same period.
More BBC News - Has feminism blocked social mobility for men?