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50 Years of Women at King's

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Over the 2022-2023 academic year King’s marked the 50th anniversary of the admission of women to the College as undergraduate students. It was an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the impact of King’s women – alumnae, students, Fellows and staff – over the past 50 years, and to take a look at what still needs to be done to address the inequalities that remain in women’s education.

The year saw a wide range of events, with alumnae from Zadie Smith (KC 1994) and Hollie McNish (KC 2001) to human rights lawyer Charlotte Proudman (KC 2013) and US writer and activist Anna Malaika Tubbs (KC 2017) coming back to King’s to talk about some of the issues facing women today; and culminating in a day-long 50 Years of Women at King’s Festival on 24 June. 

Across the year more than 6,000 King’s alumni came to one of the anniversary events or joined online; and hundreds of staff, students and Fellows took part. 

You can read more about this very special anniversary and the programme of events here

Increasing representation

New artwork was commissioned to increase the representation of women on the College walls, including portraits of Professor Dame Carrie Humphrey (KC 1978) by Anne Rothenstein, Professor Dame Anne Glover (KC 1978) by Christian Hook and current King’s Student Union President Timi Olumide-Wahab by Xanthe Burdett; and a special piece, Timbrel, composed for the College by Errollyn Wallen (KC 1999) to mark the anniversary.

50 Portraits – an Exhibition by award-winning photographer Jooney Woodward was unveiled at the Festival. Reflecting a broad cross-section of the King’s community, from the trailblazing women who first arrived in 1972 to today’s students, Fellows and staff, this major project is now part of the permanent art collection at King’s.

Next steps

The anniversary marked the continuation of the work done since 1972 in promoting women’s education and advancing gender equality and diversity. In 1990 the College commissioned the Spurling Report on Women in Higher Education; this has now been updated by two PhD students, looking at where things have improved and where there are issues still to address – from academic attainment gaps to self-confidence and safety and support. The first phase of the Spurling Report on Women in Higher Education: 30 Years On has been published, and a set of recommendations are due to be shared with the College community.

Festival Highlights

50 Years of Women at King's Festival Highlights

Highlights from the 50 Years of Women at King's Festival held at King's College on Saturday 24 June.Throughout the day we were kept motivated, informed and entertained by more than 40 different events - from talks about why music matters, how the future of technology can be shaped, why art is vital in times of crisis, and how society’s epidemic of loneliness can be addressed - to tours of the wildflower meadow, awesome exhibitions, storytelling, poetry, samba, song, and giant jenga!

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