On this day in history….7th October 1920

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

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….

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….

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

On this day in history….4th July 1985

On this day in history : 4th July 1985 – Child prodigy Ruth Lawrence graduates Oxford University with a starred first in mathematics…. At 13-years-old she is the youngest known Oxford graduate….

Ruth Lawrence circa 1991 – Photo credit : George M Bergman CC BY-SA

Ruth was born in Brighton on the 2nd of August 1971 to Harry Lawrence and his wife Sylvia Greybourne – who were both computer consultants…. When Ruth turned 5-years-old her father gave up work to educate her at home….

Aged 9 she passed her ‘O’ level in mathematics and then achieved Grade A at A-level pure mathematics…. In 1981 she passed the Oxford University entrance exam in maths and in 1983 at the age 11 joined St. Hugh’s College…. Her father accompanied her to lectures…. Ruth completed her Bachelor’s degree in two years – as opposed to the usual three….and graduated at the age of 13 with a starred first and special commendation…. This made her the youngest person to graduate Oxford University in modern times….

St. Hugh’s College, Oxford – Credit image : Fittoprint CCO

Ruth continued her studies; she went on to gain a Bachelor’s degree in physics in 1986 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in mathematics in June 1989….

Once again accompanied by her father, Ruth moved to the US to work at Harvard and became a junior fellow at 19-years-old; she then went on to the University of Michigan as an associate professor….

In 1998 Ruth married fellow mathematician Ariyeh Neimark and she moved to Israel and became an associate professor at the same establishment as her husband, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem…. This time her father did not accompany her! In 2012 she became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society….

Ruth became the mother of four children…. She has expressed some regret at her childhood and vowed she would not put her own children through the rigorous studies she had to endure….

Ruth Lawrence in 2014 – Image credit : Ben David CC BY-SA 2.0