Born Barbara Adam, she was educated at the Perse School for Girls. She studied Classics and Economics at Girton College, Cambridge from 1915 to 1919. In 1917, she married John (Jack) Wootton. He was wounded during World War I and died weeks after their marriage. She married George Wright in 1934. He died in 1964.
In the 1930s Wootton was a member of the Federal Union and represented the Union in a historic debate against Edgar Hardcastle of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which was later published as a pamphlet.
She wrote several books on economic and sociological subjects, including Lament for Economics (1938), End Social Inequality (1941), Freedom Under Planning (1945), Social Science and Social Pathology (1959), Crime and the Criminal Law (1964) and Incomes Policy (1974).
In 1969 she was made an Honorary Fellow of Girton College. In 1977 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour. In 1985 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of Cambridge. In 1984 she was chosen as one of six women for the BBC 2 series 'Women of Our Century'.
She was created Baroness Wootton of Abinger, of Abinger Common in the County of Surrey on the advice of Harold Macmillan on July 11, 1958 and was the first woman to sit on the Woolsack as a Deputy Speaker. She was the chairperson of the Wootton Report.
She died in a nursing home in Surrey in 1988.