Image credit: OU
‘Women Making History: Shaping Oxford's next Century’, will be held at the iconic Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday 19th May 2021. The event will be live-streamed to an online audience from 5-6.30pm and feature Baroness Hunt of Bethnal Green, Ruth Hunt , Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Varaidzo (Vee) Kativhu and the conversation will be moderated by Reeta Chakrabarti. Image credit: OU

Leading alumnae reflect on the future for women at Oxford as Centenary year closes

To commemorate the centenary anniversary of women students being formally admitted to Oxford, the University will host a public panel-event featuring inspirational women alumnae in conversation at the iconic Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday 19th May 2021. ‘Women Making History: Shaping Oxford's next Century’, will be live-streamed to an online audience from 5-6.30pm.

Since October 2020, the University of Oxford’s Women Making History campaign has celebrated the contributions of women to scholarship and university life and reflected on the journey towards gender equality at Oxford. Throughout the last academic year, University staff and students have, in many different events, reflected on the significance of this moment in time, and how the University has since evolved from a male-dominated space, to one that has admitted more women students than men for three consecutive years.

Watch the discussion here:

Women were first granted full membership to the University on 7 October 1920 and one week later, were given the right to be awarded degrees. Women students who had ‘informally’ studied at women’s only colleges, such as Lady Margaret Hall, since the late 1870s, but had been denied a degree, began to return to the University to claim them.

The ‘Women Making History: Shaping Oxford's next Century’ panel-event will be held on May 19th at the Sheldonian Theatre, and feature an influential panel of speakers whose expertise spans the sciences and media and public policy. The panellists will reflect on their experiences at Oxford across the last 40 years, and on the challenges as well as opportunities they see for women’s education and gender equality in the 21st Century.

The ‘Women Making History: Shaping Oxford's next Century’ speakers are:

Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE (Computer Science, Keble, 2006-10) is a mathematician, computer scientist and entrepreneur, and co-founder of Stemettes, an award-winning social initiative dedicated to inspiring and promoting the next generation of young women in the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors.

Baroness Hunt of Bethnal Green, Ruth Hunt (English, St Hilda’s, 1998-2001) is a leading LGBT+ activist, former President of Oxford University Student Union, former Chief Executive of Stonewall (2014-19), and current member of the House of Lords.

Varaidzo (Vee) Kativhu (Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Lady Margaret Hall, 2016-2020) is a LinkedIn Changemaker and Social Media influencer with a YouTube following of nearly 200,000. A role model and passionate advocate for access to education, she is currently studying for her master's in international education policy at Harvard University.

The conversation will be moderated by Reeta Chakrabarti (English/French, Exeter, 1984-88), leading journalist and broadcaster, known for presenting BBC news, for her political coverage at Westminster as well as assignments in France, Germany, and India. Since March 2020, she has been Chancellor of York St John University.

The event will include an intimate, socially distanced audience and be live-streamed via Facebook. All attendees are invited to submit questions to the panel during the YouTube event.

Dr Rebecca Surender, Chair of the Women Making History Campaign Committee, said: ‘Over the last year our campaign has both celebrated women’s advancements at Oxford University, and worked to inspire the University community to stay engaged and never stop fighting for a more just and equal society. We could not have asked for a better panel of women to commemorate this event. Although they work in very different fields of influence, they share much in common beyond their Oxford roots, having each achieved great success in their own right and earned reputations as champions of political activism for a more inclusive society. I am looking forward to a rich and insightful conversation which will hopefully motivate our audience and wider university community to continue (or begin!) taking an active role in challenging the persisting barriers to full gender equality in higher education for all women.'

Nikita Ma, President of the Oxford University Student Union, said: ‘It has been my pleasure attending and contributing to this year-long celebration, and I wish the University all the best in continuing its work to pave the way to a better future, a future which celebrates equality and diversity more than ever, by taking steps in the right direction one at a time, just as we started 100 years ago. I would encourage all to attend this fantastic event featuring inspiring alumni, so we can all shape the future of the University together - past, present, and future Oxonians.’