SOAS University of London

Pioneering SOAS women celebrated in campaign marking 150 years since women first admitted to university

6 March 2018

University of London’s Leading Women 1868–2018 campaign, which marks the 150th anniversary of women being first admitted to the university, features some of SOAS University of London’s extraordinary women who have had a major impact on society.

In 1868, nine women were admitted to the University of London. This was the first time in Britain that women had gained access to university education and this modest event was an immensely significant moment for the University, for women and for society as a whole.

Professor Ida Ward leads a tutorial

Professor Ida Ward, one of the Leading Women featured in the campaign, pictured leading a tutorial

The campaign, which runs during 2018 and beyond, will commemorate alumni, celebrate contemporary female students and champion the next generation.

SOAS’s alumna and staff honoured in the campaign include:

Alice Werner, one of the first teachers at the newly formed School of Oriental and African Studies in 1917, and a noted and prolific Africanist and linguist of African dialects.

Ida Caroline Ward, “the ultimate phonetician” and Professor of West African languages at SOAS

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, SOAS Honorary Fellow and one of the UK's most distinguished lawyers. She has practised at the Bar for over 40 years in the field of criminal law.

Baroness Valerie Amos CH, SOAS Director, former politician and senior UN official

Professor Marina Warner, Professorial Research Associate at SOAS and celebrated writer specialising in mythology and fairy-tales, with an emphasis on the part women play in them

The SOAS women feature alongside a number of leading women who have had a significant impact on society. These include Dipu Moni, the first woman Foreign Minister of Bangladesh; Dame Eugenia Charles, the first female prime minister of Dominica; Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the first women to serve within the UK government as Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland and Marie Stopes, the palaeobotanist and women's rights campaigner who is best known as a pioneer of family planning.

A number of the SOAS women are featured in SOAS’s centenary celebrations which are available on the website.

More information on the campaign is available on the University of London website.