Women Making History: Centenary Events | University of Oxford
Women at Oxford: 100 years of Oxford degrees for women
Women at Oxford: 100 years of Oxford degrees for women

Women Making History: Centenary Events

To mark the centenary of women being admitted as full members of the University, we will be bringing together events, interviews and resources reflecting on, as well as celebrating, the history of women at Oxford...

This is a landmark year in the history of Oxford University; in October, we mark a century since the first women collected their degrees in the Sheldonian Theatre. 

Colleges and departments across Oxford will hold centenary events reflecting on, as well as celebrating, the history of women at Oxford, exploring the present and future challenges for women’s education, gender equality and diversity, and celebrating Oxford women.

Image credit: Lady Margaret HallThe first women to be awarded degrees at Oxford University. Image credit: Lady Margaret Hall
As well as events, below you will find other resources and links to interviews with a group of remarkable women.

Centenary events will be listed together here and we invite departments, colleges and students that are planning centenary related events to get in touch. If you have any questions about event listings, please email the Information Office.

Read more about the history of women at Oxford on a dedicated website here.

Celebrating 100 Years of Oxford Degrees for Women

Thursday, 14 October (7pm)

Hosted by Somerville College

February, 1920 saw the approval of a University statute providing admission of women to degrees. On October 7, 1920, a ceremony in the Divinity School conferred the first round of these degrees.

As part of our celebrations on the centenary of this extraordinarily important event in the history of the University, Somervillian author Jane Robinson (Bluestockings, Ladies Can't Climb Ladders) will speak to Maya Szaniecki, Somerville JCR Women's Officer, about the key moments that illuminate Somerville's role in this historic struggle.

Click here to register

Women Making History: 100 Years of Oxford Degrees for Women

Thursday 15 October (5.45pm)

Hosted by the Faculty of History

'Women count. What they do with their lives on the grandest of international stages, or the smallest of domestic hearths; how they learn, work, love, raise their children, shape future generations; how they remember; how they think of the future - it all counts; it is half of history. Please join us as we reflect on the 100-year anniversary of Oxford granting academic degrees to women.' Find out more.

With Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford; The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67th Secretary of State of the United States; Professor Maggie Snowling, President of St John’s College, Oxford; Professor Brenda E. Stevenson, The Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair of Women’s History.

Online webinar - registration required

Click here to register

For further information email: events@oxfordna.org

Women in Oxford's School of Geography

Friday 16 October (1.30pm-3pm)

School of Geography and the Environment - Online Lecture

Pictured are some of the first graduates of the Final Honour School in Geography in 1934, which is what the BA Geography degree has been known as since it was first introduced in 1932Pictured are some of the first graduates of the Final Honour School in Geography in 1934, which is what the BA Geography degree has been known as since it was first introduced in 1932. Image: courtesy of the School of Geography

Dr Elizabeth Baigent, Reader in the History of Geography at the University of Oxford and former Research Director of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, uncovers the contribution of women to Oxford's School of Geography - an institution whose history is generally told in terms of historic male endeavour.

By uncovering the lives of women staff and students from the establishment of the School at the end of the nineteenth century, Dr Baigent explores the varied contributions of the School's women and their connections with wider movements such as women's suffrage - as well as asking why we have until now regarded them as marginal and unimportant.

This event is open to all staff and students in the School, all alumni and anyone else who is interested. 

Free: Book online here

Special Faculty Lecture: Decently-Clad Women and Trousered Men. The Missionary and the Body

Friday 16 October (4pm)

Among the strongest and earliest of missionary impulses as Christian proselytisation spread across the globe was the urge to clothe peoples understood as naked. Bodies were central to, and always contentious, in religous practice and in the West, nakedness has long been a site of ferocious theological debate. But the struggles of the missionary movement illuminate not only theological anxieties but critically, too, those of gender, race, sexuality and imperial power. 

Online lecture via Zoom

For all queries, please contact regius.pa@history.ox.ac.uk

More details including joining instructions here.

Women at Oxford 100 Years on: from Access to Equality and Inclusion?

An online panel and Q&A for University Members

Tuesday 10 November (2pm-3.15pm)

Part of this year’s celebration of the Centenary of Women, this online event aims to foster University wide understanding, debate and dialogue about progress to date, as well as on-going challenges and our future vision for gender equality at Oxford.

Join Dr Rebecca Surender, University Advocate for Equality and Diversity and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, who will moderate this important and topical discussion along with panellists, including:

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Department of Physics
Sue Dopson, Deputy Dean, Saïd Business School
Matthew Jarvis, Associate Head of People, Mathematic, Physics and Life Sciences (MPLS)
Nikita Ma, President, Oxford Students’ Union
Saira Shaikh, Academic Registrar, Academic Administration Division

Panellists will address the following questions:

  • What are our biggest challenges for advancing gender equality at Oxford in the next five years?
  • How can our vision of and approach to gender equality at Oxford be truly 'intersectional’ and inclusive?
  • What promising initiatives for advancing gender and other equalities, from within or outside the University, can we build on?

Questions on these themes, or other issues, can be pre-submitted at registration or raised during the discussion.

More information about the University’s recent progress on gender equality can be found here.

Please register to attend.

Further reading

Women's History Month: 100 years of Oxford degrees for women

We celebrate Women's History Month by speaking to a group of remarkable women about life here now.

Find out more and read our interviews here.

Other resources

Gender equality at Oxford

Information about the University’s work to promote gender equality - https://edu.admin.ox.ac.uk/gender-equality

Women in science

The Women in Science website shares the experiences of successful women scientists. 

Athena SWAN Charter

The University’s participation in the Athena SWAN Charter provides us with a framework for analysis and results in a comprehensive action plan to promote gender equality. Our current priorities include increasing the proportion of women in senior academic roles and achieving strong representation and voice of women in decision-making at all levels. Read more about the Athena SWAN Charter here

Women Making History: University progress on gender equality

We celebrate women’s contribution to scholarship and progressive change at Oxford, and mark 100 years since the first women were awarded degrees, we take a look at what the facts and figures tell us about the progress Oxford University is making in the 21st century. Read University progress on gender equality here.