On this day in history : 7th October 1920 – Women are granted the right for full admission and to become members of Oxford University….

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Image credit : Lawrence OP via flickr

From the late 1870s women had been allowed to attend lectures, take the same examinations as men and gain honours…. However, they were unable to receive the degrees that they would have been entitled to had they of been men…. Between 1904 and 1907 some women travelled to Dublin – the university there being more relaxed and willing to award degrees to women – and they became known as ‘Steamboat Ladies’….

By 1920 four women’s colleges had been established;- Lady Margaret Hall, St. Hugh’s, Somerville and St. Hilda’s…. Women who had previously gained honours were able to return to ‘matriculate’ – go through the formal admission ceremony to the university – and then have the degree they were now entitled to awarded to them in another formal ceremony….At the very first of these ceremonies more than forty women attended….

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Lady Margaret Hall – Herbi1922 CC BY-SA 4.0

It wasn’t totally equal rights immediately though…. A quota limiting how many women could enrol at any one time was not abolished until 1957…. The colleges remained single-sex until the 1970s – the last single-sex college, St. Benet’s Hall, finally opened its doors to women in 2015….

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Students arriving for a matriculation ceremony at Oxford – Toby Ord CC BY-SA 2.5

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