women making history
PROF KRINA ZONDERVAN, HEAD OF DEPARTMENT
I feel incredibly fortunate to hold two Oxford University degrees, my BMBCh and then later my DPhil and am fully aware that this is only possible because of the struggle and tenacity of the women who broke down the barriers over 100 years ago. I hope that I have honoured them by putting these exceptional educational opportunities to good use during my career in Women’s Health. I am privileged that I can pay back some of that debt by continuing to teach and mentor the current Oxford students. Sadly, despite huge leaps forward in educational equality, women and girls still have to fight for the right to a basic education in many parts of the world today: a challenge which we as a community need to address.
It would not be possible for me to be where I am without the women that have gone before me. However, 100 years have passed since the first women collected their degrees from Oxford University, and yet equality in gender and diversity remains tenuous. As an Associate Professor leading research into fertility preservation at Oxford I hope to inspire others. Through teaching, public communication, as a mentor and supervisor, I am determined to support and encourage the next generation, whatever their journey. More female role models are needed at senior levels in STEM, academia and all areas of society and this is something I am proud to do. The issue of inequality is one of the most harmful in society, yet with commitment and more importantly action, equality for all is achievable within a generation.
Hurray, it’s 100 years of women recognition at Oxford, such a beautiful coincidence with my own education here! As a woman health professional, I am proud to have been making meaningful contributions to the health of society. Significantly, my work impacts on improving maternal and child health and health systems strengthening. I doff my hat to the women who defied the odds to pave the way for a seamless opportunity for me and other women to have elite education at Oxford. Let’s celebrate this milestone but without relent until we make it possible for the 130 million (6 to17 year old) girls who still have no access to education to reach their fullest intellectual potential. Beyond access, we need to concretise our efforts to ensure a truly diverse world of women empowerment –of gender equality at all levels, and where racial and cultural pluralism is the order of the day. I’m proud to be an Oxonian woman impacting lives through science and research!
I am honoured to be a woman studying at Oxford. Notably in the field of women’s reproductive health, it’s strikingly clear that without the voices of women at every stage of the research process, we would be doing a disservice to the women benefiting from our research. By participating in science communication and public engagement, I hope to disseminate my research, and the opportunities available for women to pursue STEM. It is a great accomplishment to see increasing numbers of women in STEM, however there is still work to be done to increase representation of all women; women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities. I hope that in another 100 years, we will see more women occupying senior positions in the academic hierarchy, in male-dominated areas of STEM, and in high-impact decision-making roles. That will truly be something to celebrate.
"I was fortunate enough to be the first woman in my family to go to university. However, without the women of Oxford who studied before me, and those women who have supervised and mentored me through my recent MRes, it would not have been possible. I wish to wholeheartedly thank them alongside celebrating 100 years of women at Oxford. Unfortunately, gender inequalities in health care have a significant impact, affecting both the physical and mental health of millions of women and girls throughout the world. My goal is to empower women. To increase recognition and raise awareness of pain issues affecting women in today’s society through the portfolio of women’s reproductive health studies I manage. Supporting fellow female healthcare professionals in accessing education is also hugely important to me. It has, however, highlighted to me the number of obstacles women face in pursuing education due to the many roles they often juggle. I therefore applaud Oxford for marking this momentous occasion but also look forward to seeing the institution further its support for all women seeking education, whatever their personal circumstances, which will broaden the value women can bring to academia in the years and decades to come".
Studying at Oxford is an incredible experience, and that it’s only 100 years since women have been able to do so is egregious. We can’t take the opportunities we have to today for granted, and neither should we underestimate the work left to be done. I’m enjoying my DPhil studies and I’m looking forward to building a career in the sciences, but the numbers still show women continue to be misrepresented in higher and leading positions. We’ve still got a long way to go to achieve the equality of opportunity and recognition that should be the norm. We’re moving in the right direction, and I’m proud to be part of that movement. I’m grateful to all the women that have come before and made my present experiences possible, and hope the steps we’re taking now will lead to even greater opportunities for those who will come after us.
HANNAH NAZRI - DPHIL STUDENT
"I feel privileged and honoured to continue my postgraduate education at Oxford. It is marvellous that it has been a 100 years since the first women graduated from Oxford. It is thanks to them, that I am able to pursue my studies at Oxford. It is through my time in Oxford that I am able to reflect further on my role as a clinician and scientist in women’s health, as I become more aware of the injustices and transgressions that women all over the world face due to their sex and gender, especially women of colour. I hope to inspire others to not only be great clinicians and scientists, but to speak up and break down the barriers for other women and for those from less privileged backgrounds. A 100 years is an incredible milestone, and I am proud to be carrying the Oxford banner on advocating women’s rights through my research work and charitable efforts".
2020 sees the centenary of women's right to matriculate and to graduate: to become, in other words, full members of the University of Oxford. It is an occasion to celebrate the multiple ways in which women have contributed to the University and women graduates have made a mark in the world. It is also a moment at which to commemorate those scholars and campaigners who provided the impetus for this change.
Gender equality at Oxford
- In 2019, women comprised half of all undergraduate students for the first time;
- In the same year, the share of female first year students (53%) entering the University slightly exceeded that of men for the first time;
- The share of women among graduate students increased to 45% in 2019, up from 44% the previous year.