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International Women's Day: Pembroke Edition

International Women’s Day, which fell on Wednesday the 8th March, is a day not just for celebrating women and their achievements, but for acknowledging what we still need to do and learn, and where we might go in the future. Pembroke graduate students marked the day with a series of events designed to bring attention to presence and experiences of women in the academic environment. 

In 2014-15 Pembroke celebrated the 30th anniversary of the admission of women to the college, reminding us that women's full inclusion in university life is still quite a recent development, and an extremely important one. The dual challenge of academia is challenging any sexism you may come across in your everyday life, while also doing work that exemplifies intersectional feminist values, particularly if you work with minority groups or international communities. IMG_6005The day began with an exhibition in the Old Library showcasing Pembroke’s female Fellows and some notable Cambridge women.  The exhibition also included a clothes swap in aid of the charity Advance, who are domestic violence support specialists working in London, offering crisis intervention for women in urgent need of help.  Part of the cost of the dinner ticket also went to Advance.IMG_6021

The panel in the evening consisted of both students and Fellows, with Dr Iza Hussin, Dr Sertaç Sehlikoglu and Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe representing the Fellowship. Graduate Myfanwy Hill and undergraduate Lily Maxwell completed the panel, with Sofia Ropek Hewson as Chair.  The topics ranged from positive experiences in veterinary sciences, to the challenges of reconciling cultural relativism with feminist principles, and IMG_6028dealing with peers’ questions and comments as a BME or international student. 

The panel was followed by dinner in hall, with biographies of important but not little-known women on the tables, no gowns, no Latin, and Professor Gelsthorpe presiding.  Everything about the evening was designed to be inclusive in keeping with the values of International Women’s Day.   Student-run magazine Pembroke Street also produced an International Women’s Day issue, which you can read here