This International Women’s Day we celebrate our female members and remind ourselves to keep pushing for gender parity.
Churchill College has always been at the vanguard of pushing for progress with regards to gender parity. It was a leader in dramatically expanding female participation in Cambridge University, as the first of the formerly all-male Cambridge colleges to vote to admit women, and we continue to work hard to encourage and provide a strong and supportive community for women, both in our admissions work and once women arrive at the College.
We have established a targeted programme of outreach events to further widen participation of young women, particularly from state schools, and change perceptions of the career opportunities of STEM subject degrees to further encourage and enable young women to study these subjects at university.
Our women students achieve outstanding results during their time with us. Despite being in the minority statistically due to our constitutional focus upon STEM subjects, which women are significantly underrepresented nationally — Churchill women typically achieve exam results even better overall than those achieved by our very high achieving male students.
“In undergraduate examinations in 2017, Churchill women as a group attained results placing them in the very highest echelons of academic excellence in Cambridge.’
Our Master, Professor Dame Athene Donald, a leading champion of gender equality and blogger, particular with regards to Women in STEM, hosts a regular series of conversation-style events with eminent female professionals, exploring how they have forged their careers and in many cases broken through glass ceilings — exploring the successes and the mistakes that these can inform and inspire students and young academics at Churchill.
The historians and archivists in our Churchill Archives Centre work to highlight the number of key documents in the history of science, of often forgotten or overshadowed female scientists, including the laboratory notebooks in which Rosalind Franklin set out her original findings about the structure of DNA, and calculations relating to Lise Meitner’s work on the discovery of nuclear fission on the eve of WWII. The archives of these pioneering scientists demonstrate that women have made contributions of global significance to the development of scientific research. Yet, as the tangled histories of their discoveries also remind us (Franklin’s important X-ray studies were later overshadowed by the theoretical model of DNA constructed by Watson and Crick, while Meitner was excluded from the team who were later awarded the Nobel prize for the work on nuclear fission), it has never been more important to recognise and represent young women’s achievements in academia. Again Churchill is working towards contributing to changing these perceptions.
The Møller Institute, under the leadership of CEO Gillian Secrett, has seen over 4000 senior and aspiring leaders from global organisations attend its leadership development programmes. Many of these programmes consider the role of unconscious bias in the workplace and help leaders to identify and navigate their own prejudices and blind-spots in order to help them, and their teams think, learn and act inclusively. The next Møller Institute HR Directors Forum, on 20 March, is focused on employee engagement, diversity and inclusion and one of the key contributors is Carol Rosati OBE, Founder of Inspire, the global network for senior business women.
We will be celebrating in College with a student Instagram takeover and student events such as the International Women’s Day Forum and Social and a sold-out panel discussion and formal celebrating female engineers at Churchill.
International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let’s all Press for Progress.
— International Women’s Day