The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘BreakTheBias’, as we imagine a gender equal world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. That is, one might argue, precisely the world Somerville has been striving to create since our first students arrived here in 1879. Indeed, the history of women’s colleges at Oxford is synonymous with the struggle for recognition and equality of women at Oxford.

So come with us as we take a moment to celebrate the women of Somerville, both past and present, who are helping us shape that better, more equitable world.

A Conversation with Dame Professor Elan Closs Stephens

Ahead of our Foundation Day lecture on Friday 4th March, Dame Elan joined our current JCR Women’s Officer, Rosie Seymour for a conversation between Somerville women across the generations.

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Patricia Kingori: the youngest Black female professor at Oxford

Let’s take a moment once again to celebrate the ground-breaking achievement of our Senior Research Fellow, Patricia Kingori, who this year became one of the youngest women to be awarded a full professorship in Oxford’s 925-year history and the youngest Black professor at Oxford or Cambridge.

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Freshta Karim on the plight of women in Afghanistan

Somerville alumna Freshta Karim (2016, MPP Public Policy) is a children’s rights activist who was forced to flee Taliban persecution last summer. She wrote the following piece for The Economist on the plight of women in Afghanistan at the invitation of Malala Yousafzai.

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The Women of Oxford Podcast

Former JCR Women’s Officer Maya Szaniecki is a founder and co-host of a new podcast interviewing women linked to the city and/or university of Oxford. New episodes are added each week, despite Maya being busy on her year abroad!

Listen here

How it’s going vs. how it started…

It’s true that the history of women’s colleges at Oxford is synonymous with the struggle for recognition and equality of women at Oxford. However, we are proud that today the struggle for equality for women is also the story of the allies who walk alongside us as we imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination, where difference is valued and celebrated.

The above composite image (click to expand) shows the current JCR Committee posing on the terrace alongside the first generation of students of Somerville in 1880, just months after Somerville was founded.

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Further reading?

Spotlight on Somerville 4: Defending Ukraine’s Universities, Protecting the Pound and More

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Spotlight on Somerville 4: Defending Ukraine’s Universities, Protecting the Pound and More

Joyce Reynolds

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23 September 2022
Joyce Reynolds

The Long Read: An Interview with Professor Iyiola Solanke

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22 September 2022
The Long Read: An Interview with Professor Iyiola Solanke