It occurred to me Elisabeth Sladen, the Doctor Who girl is a good example of how women have changed over the last 40-yrs and she did it playing the same character Sarah Jane Smith.

In the 70s, if you exclude The Avengers, was kind of the begining of the action heroine and up to a point that's what Sarah Jane was when she was assistant to Jon Pertwee's and Tom Baker's Doctor, but as well as the occassional elbow in the ribs of the bad guy, she still came over as a girlie damsel in distress for The Doctor to save, (a bit like Angie Dickinson and Earl Holliman in Police Woman).

even in the later The Five Doctors in the 80s.

However, after her appearence in David Tennant's School Reunion episode of Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures, we now see her as a tough, self reliant, modern day woman, who can more than look after herself