Johnian magazine issue 48, spring 2022
Celebrating 40 years of women at St John’s College
In 1981 the first female members matriculated at St John’s, with the first female undergraduates arriving in 1982. In this anniversary year the College is taking the opportunity to reflect on all that women have added to the College and wider community since their admission. This timeline, though far from exhaustive, highlights some of the firsts for women at St John’s over the last 40 years.
College Fellows secure a two-thirds majority to change the College Statutes to allow the admission of women.
On 18 March the Council approves a change in the College Statutes to the effect that:
In these Statutes and in any order or regulation made under them words of the masculine gender shall import the feminine.
In October the College’s first female Fellow, Dr Kathleen Wheeler, is appointed. She is joined by the College’s first female research students (10 in total), with Birgit Müller being the first female postgraduate student to have her name entered in the Admissions Register.
Tami Davis becomes the first woman to join the Lady Margaret Boat Club [LMBC], and its first female cox.
The first women undergraduates (43 in total) are admitted to membership of St John’s, with Sharon Chen being the first female undergraduate to have her name entered in the Admissions
Register on 1 September. In her article Sharon shares her thoughts on access to education for
women and leaving a legacy to the College.
Dr Maria Lucia Cardoso de Almeida becomes the first woman to be elected to the Fellowship under Title A (Research Fellow).
Sharon Chen becomes the first woman to read grace in Hall.
The SBR elects its first female President, Mary Short.
Louise Makin becomes the first Ladies’ Captain of the LMBC.
In Michaelmas 1983 the LMBC women win their first race. This is in the semi-finals of the Women’s IVs against New Hall (now Murray Edwards).
The College’s women’s sporting club, The Flamingos, is founded.
The first women BA graduands are presented by the College.
LMBC member Henrietta Butler (née Shaw) becomes the first woman to cox the men’s Blue Boat in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
The Lady Margaret Boat Club welcomed its first intake of women and coached us extremely well – three of us Novices went on to row in University crews. When I was selected as the first female cox of the Cambridge Blue Boat in 1985, I think the College and the LMBC felt it was entirely fitting that this “first” should be from their illustrious Boat Club.Henrietta Butler
St John’s appoints its first female Tutor, Dr Naomi Segal, and welcomes Dr Olga Frances Linares as the first female Overseas Visiting Fellow.
The JCR elects its first female President, Katharine Joy.
Jo Griffifths becomes the first woman to captain the LMBC.
Professor Jane Heal becomes the College’s first female President.
‘St John’s Women’s Society’ (now The St John’s Feminist Society) is founded to mark the 25th anniversary of the first admission of women undergraduates into the College.
The Revd Elizabeth Adekunle becomes the first woman to be appointed permanent College Chaplain (later also serving as the College’s first female Acting Dean of Chapel, in 2015-16).
Being Chaplain at St John’s has been one of my highlights so far. The role was interesting and full of possibilities and the College community was crammed with unexpected, brilliant and beautiful surprises, it was a pleasure.The Ven. Liz Adekunle
Jennifer Egan and Professor Jane Stapleton are the first women elected as Honorary Fellows of the College.
Dr Annis May Timpson becomes the College’s first female Senior Tutor.
Aquila, the College’s first all-female vocal group is founded.
Helen Murley becomes the College’s first female Domestic Bursar.
Changes to the College Statutes are approved to the effect that the Statutes shall be ‘expressed in gender-neutral language’.
Heather Hancock becomes the first woman to take up the Mastership of St John’s. You can read about Heather’s plans for setting the College’s post-pandemic direction.
Claire Griffiths becomes the first female chairperson of the Johnian Society. In Johnian playlist, Claire tells us about launching the College’s first aerobics class and reflects on her five favourite songs.
Women and girls will join the College Choir for the first time in October.