Church documents recorded women playing football in Carstairs, Lanarkshire, in 1628. Scotland first played a women's international match in May 1881. Women's football struggled for recognition during this early period and was banned by the football authorities in 1921. Club sides who were interested in using their grounds for women's football were subsequently denied permission by the (SFA). The sport continued on an unofficial basis until the 1970s, when the ban was lifted. In 1971 UEFA instructed its members to take control of women's football within their territories. The motion was passed 31–1, but Scotland was the only member to vote against it. Football in Scotland has traditionally been seen as a working class and male preserve.
Scotland's first official match, a 3–2 defeat to England, took place in November 1972. The team was managed by Rab Stewart. The 1921 ban on women's football was lifted in 1974, and the SFA assumed direct responsibility for Scottish women's football in 1998. Scotland have participated in most international competitions since the ban was removed. The team's standing has improved significantly in recent years, reaching an all-time high of 19th place in the FIFA Women's World Rankings in March 2014. They reached their first major tournament finals when they qualified for UEFA Women's Euro 2017. The team followed this up by qualifying for their first World Cup finals tournament in 2019. Following their qualification, the Scottish Government announced they would provide funding to allow all the players to train full time in the lead up to the World Cup, a welcome announcement as several players do not play professionally. Their final home match (against ) before the 2019 World Cup saw a record attendance for the national team of 18,555.
Claire Emslie scored Scotland's first World Cup goal, netting in their 2019 opener against England on 9 June. After losing their second game, 2–1 against , Scotland needed to win their third game against to qualify for the last 16 as a third-placed team. They appeared to be heading for qualification when they took a 3–0 lead, but they conceded three late goals to draw 3–3 and exited at the group stage.