Inspirational Women Who Studied at Oxford

In honour of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating a handful of the amazing women that have graduated from the University of Oxford

Here at our Oxfordshire hotel we consider ourselves extremely lucky to be in such close proximity to one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. As March 8th marks International Women’s Day, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to find out a little more about some of the amazing ladies that have graduated from Oxford over the centuries…


Annie Rogers

Achieved first class degrees in Latin and Greek and in Ancient History 1877-79 could not graduate until 1920

Annie Mary Anne Henley Rogers (we know, what a name) was born in Oxford in 1856 and was a staunch promoter of women’s right to an education. Roger’s was the first woman to ever be offered a place at the university in 1873, after coming top in the entrance examinations, but had her offer withdrawn when it was discovered that she was, in fact, a woman. Annie was eventually allowed to study at the university and achieved first class degrees in Latin and Greek and in Ancient History, although was unable to graduate due to the university’s policy on female students.

But Annie didn’t let that stop her! She waited 41 long years and formally graduated, at the age of 64, when Oxford changed their matriculation policy to allow women to graduate. And in the interim? Annie Rogers didn’t let her lack of an official certification holder her back; in the years between studying and graduating she, as the only woman with the equivalent of an Oxford University degree, became a don at the university. She also joined, and became secretary, of the Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women in Oxford.

Annie Rogers was a pioneer of women’s educational rights, and for that we must thank her.


Emily Davison

Achieved first class degree in literature, never graduated due to restrictions on women’s education

Emily Wilding Davison is a name that most will know. She was the suffragette who stepped out in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby on 4th June 1913 and, in the process, became a martyr for women’s rights. But before Davison’s suffrage involvements, she attended St Hugh’s College, Oxford and obtained the equivalent of a first-class honours degree in literature.

After her time at Oxford, in 1903, Davison went on to join the Women’s Social and Political Union, where she began her journey towards her final act of suffrage at the Derby in 1913. A truly determined and inspirational woman for our list.


Cornelia Sorabji

Became the first woman to take the Bachelor of Civil Laws exam at Somerville College, Oxford in 1889

This amazing was also first female graduate from Bombay University, and then in 1889 became the first woman to read law at Oxford, as well as being the first Indian national to study at any British university. Not only that, but Sorabji also became the first woman to practise law in India and in Britain. Her track record is really quite astonishing. What an incredible role model for women of today.


Ivy Williams

Completed her law examinations in 1903, could not graduate until 1920

Another awe-inspiring lawyer, in 1922 Dr Ivy Williams became the first woman to be called to the English bar and serve as a practicing barrister, following in the footsteps of her father and brother. Williams studied law at what was to become St Anne’s College, Oxford and had completed all of her examinations by 1903, However, due to restrictions in place on the educational rights of women, Williams could not graduate until 1920. And then, after the ‘Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act’ came into force in December 1919, she joined the Inner Temple as a student on 26 January 1920. Dr Ivy Williams laid the groundwork for women in law today with her inspiring journey to becoming England’s first practicing female barrister.


Aung San Suu Kyi

Graduated with a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1967

Aung San Suu Kyi is a name still very much at the forefront of the human rights movement, and certainly isn’t one we could miss of this list of inspirational female alumni. In case you don’t know who she is, Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, diplomat, and author who is the First and incumbent State Counsellor and Leader of the National League for Democracy. Her work in spreading global democracy and her position as the first female Foreign Minister to serve in Burmese government. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of her political career under house arrest due to political tensions in Myanmar, and has definitely earnt her place in the history books as an inspirational politician and activist.


Now, that is just a handful of the amazing women that have graduated (or not in the case of Emily Davsion) from Oxford over the years. If you would like to get up close and personal with the beautiful buildings in which they studied, then why not stay at our hotel near Oxford and make a visit to the auspicious institution? Book your stay direct today for our best rate guaranteed.