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Cambridge University marks 150 years of female students

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image copyrightSian Collins
image captionRockets were set off in protests against female students in the late 19th Century

Fragments of eggshells and fireworks thrown at female students are among items at an exhibition to mark 150 years since they were first allowed to study at Cambridge University.

Women were first admitted to Girton College in 1869 but it was not until 1948 that they were awarded degrees.

The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge tells the stories of the struggles and successes of female students, academics and staff through the years.

The exhibition opens next month.

Co-curator Dr Lucy Delap said the exhibition would showcase the "persistent marginalisation" of women at the university and their "ongoing campaigns for gender justice".

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionA sea of male undergraduates protesting at a vote to allow women to gain degrees at Cambridge in 1897

"From the founding of the first women's college to the present day, the experience of women at Cambridge has differed greatly from their male counterparts," she said.

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Although the establishment of Girton College - the UK's first residential university establishment for women - gave them the opportunity to study, they had to ask permission to attend lectures and were not allowed to sit exams without special permission.

image copyrightGirton College
image captionDomestic staff at Girton College, photographed in 1908

The 400 pages of a petition demanding women be allowed to take degrees will also be on display.

Surviving fragments of eggshells and fireworks illustrating the violent opposition to giving women degrees during a vote on the subject in 1897 will be on show alongside a note written by undergraduates apologising for damage done to women's college Newnham during a riot in 1921.

The exhibition at the University Library opens on 14 October and runs until March.

Related Topics

  • Cambridge
  • Universities
  • Higher education
  • Women
  • University of Cambridge

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