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Durham First

Women in Tuition

"Forthright and often difficult, frequently falling out with people, he was sufficiently strong-willed to wear down most opposition." 1

This was William Charles Lake (1817-1897). Appointed Dean of Durham in 1869, Lake was a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford and veteran of Royal Commissions set up to examine the state of elementary and military education. In an age when Durham was overwhelmingly a centre of theological study, Lake introduced adult education courses and degrees in economics and music. He also oversaw the introduction, in 1870, of mature students and the groundbreaking decision to admit women in 1881.

When women began studying at Durham they did so at a university whose charter would not allow them to proceed to degrees! But by 1895 a supplementary charter had been granted and three years later, Mary Gibson, Dora Heslop and Winifred Hindmarch from St Hild's Training College became the first women to graduate from Durham University. By the 1930s one quarter of the University's students were women and now they account for more than half. 2006 saw the opening of our newest College, named after the 19th Century social reformer, Josephine Butler, who was instrumental in improving women's health and education. Today, our records tell us our living female alumni number 57,843. Ten of this illustrious group will this year receive telegrams from Her Majesty the Queen in addition to their copies of Durham First!

The ethos of equality of access on which Durham University was built has persisted and ensured women have benefitted from a Durham degree for more than a century. Below is just a small selection of women who have achieved success in their chosen field and whom we are proud to call alumni of Durham University.

Dr Janet Mary Bainbridge (Botany, 1977-83)
Senior Specialist Advisor, One Northeast, since 2004; Chief Executive, European Process Industries Competitiveness Centre, 2001-04.

Jeanne Elisabeth Bell (Medicine, Kings College, 1961-66)
Professor of Neuropathology, University of Edinburgh, and Honorary Consultant in Neuropathology, Western General Hospital, since 1999.

Hon. Dame Jill Margaret Black (Law, Trevelyan College, 1972-75)
A judge of the High Court of Justice, Family Division since 1999.

Julia Ann Burdus (Psychology, St. Mary's College, 1952-56)
Non-executive Director, Next plc.,1993-2004.

Professor Joy Carter (Geology, Trevelyan College, 1974-77)
Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester, since 2006.

Lucy Amanda Higginson (English Literature, College of St Hild and St Bede, 1990-93)
Deputy Editor and Editor of Horse and Hound since 2002.

Irene Hindmarsh (Education, Kings College, 1946-47)
Principal of St Aidan's College, 1970-88, and second Pro-Vice Chancellor of Durham University, 1982-85.

Dame Elisabeth Hoodless (Sociology, Kings College, 1959-62)
Executive Director, Community Service Volunteers, since 1986.

Baroness Morgan of Huyton (Geography, Van Mildert College, 1977-80)
Political secretary to Tony Blair, 1997-2001; Non-executive director of the Carphone Warehouse Group plc., since 2005; member of the Board of the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Geraldine Peacock (Sociology, St Aidan's College, 1966-69)
Chair, Charity Commission for England and Wales, 2004-06.

Dame Janet Ritterman (Music, Armstrong College, 1968-71)
Director of the Royal College of Music and Visiting Professor of the University of Plymouth, 1993-2005

Dr Miriam Stoppard (Medicine, King's College, 1958-61)
Writer, broadcaster and authority on parenting, childcare and women's health; founder and Executive Chair of Miriam Stoppard Lifetime Ltd, since 2001.

Hon. Dame Caroline Jane Swift (Lady Openshaw) (Law, St. Aidan's College, 1973-76)
Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, since 2005.

Dari Jean Taylor (Sociology of Social Policy, 1986-90)
Labour Member of Parliament for Stockton South since 1997.

Minette Walters (French, Trevelyan College, 1968-71)
Multi-award-winning author of crime fiction since 1992.

Jennifer Nancy Willott (Classics, St. Mary's College, 1993-96)
Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central since 2005.

1 Watson, N. (2007) The Durham Difference, London: James & James, p.24