Lucy Cavendish College puts gender equality centre stage with “Where are the Women?” conference

24 November 2015

Lucy Cavendish College hosted a successful conference covering issues of women's equality in politics, business and the media, as well as their role in the family.

Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge – the only women’s college in Europe for students aged 21 and over – celebrated its 50th anniversary with a series of lively, in-depth debates on gender Where are the women conferenceequality at the Cambridge Union, the world's oldest student debating society.

Jackie Ashley, College President, welcomed an audience of more than 400 to join the debates. Speakers, including leading women from politics, the voluntary sector, business and the media, took to the stage to share their perspectives on gender equality.

The debate spanned diverse aspects of the female experience in 2015, including equality in politics, women’s involvement in the technology sector, women as care-givers and the experiences of women in the media. 

Reflecting on the event, Jackie Ashley said: “The conference was a phenomenal success, with women coming together to share experiences, challenges and solutions from a range of perspectives. This debate is just the beginning, however, there is still a long way to go before we all achieve gender equality.” 

Highlights included an opening conversation with Harriet Harman MP, led by Martha Kearney from BBC, The World at One. Harriet's comments on the current lack of women in top leadership roles in the Labour party were later reported on Radio 4's The World at One broadcast on 16/11/2015. She stated: ”I think the strand  of the Left has never been a gender-motivated party of the Left.”

Issues for women working in technology were explored by tech evangelist Dr Sue Black, journalist Caroline Criado Perez and Stemette founder Anne-Marie Imafidon – including an announcement of plans for a new #Womenintech Centre at Lucy Cavendish College, to draw more talented women into the sector. Outlining the vision for the centre Dr Black said: "The tech industry say they want to involve more women and this Centre will be a hub for cutting-edge research, and a place to come for advice on how to attract more women."

Helena Herklots, Chief ExeWhere are the women conferencecutive of Carers UK, highlighted the importance of carers in society: "the value of unpaid care in the UK has increased from £68bn in 2001, to £132bn today" – with women still taking on more caring responsibilities. A personal experience of caring was shared by Jane Hawking, who spoke about her life with physicist Professor Stephen Hawking. 

Issues such as online trolling and abuse, as well as sexual assault were raised, with journalist Polly Toynbee asserting that she feels young girls "need feminism today, more than ever before."

A vision for a future came from Sophie Walker, leader of the new Women's Equality Party. Her view that "There are 30 million women in the UK, I'm sure we can find 325 brilliant ones for parliament." was warmly welcomed, alongside calls for electoral reform and the use of quotas to deliver true equality within politics. 

“Where are the Women?” celebrated the 50th anniversaries of Lucy Cavendish College, BBC The World at One and Carers UK. The event was kindly sponsored by The Rothschild FoundationAstra Zeneca and BBC Worldwide

Follow the debate on twitter at: #wherearethewomen 

View the programme and speaker information

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About Lucy Cavendish

Lucy Cavendish is the only women's college in Europe exclusively for students aged 21 or over, and a unique part of the University of Cambridge. Its undergraduate and postgraduate students come from over sixty countries, and a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Many have changed careers or overcome significant challenges in order to reach University. The College is particularly strong in Medicine, Law, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, the Social Sciences and English. 2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of Lucy Cavendish College in 1965.

Contact information:

Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge – Jeanette Ariano, Communications & Marketing Manager, 01223 768426

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Tamara Felisa Micner, Alumna and Playwright

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"Lucy Cavendish was a welcoming, warm, intimate, comfortable and diverse community to be a student. The friends I made here ranged from a Panamanian humanitarian to a Romanian economist to a Pakastani American historian." Playwright, Performer, Journalist, Alumna.