Welcome to the fifth edition of the SJC Women's Network eNewsletter

Dear All,

Welcome to the Trinity edition of the SJC Women’s Network eNewsletter!

Trinity is a momentous term at Oxford - for the fortunate, punting idyllically through halcyon summer days, and for the unlucky (and we all must be unlucky sometimes) facing and overcoming finals.

When looking back over the past few months, there has been more societal upheaval, the ripples of which are being felt throughout the SJC Women’s Network community. Since our last newsletter, we have seen the wake of the Sarah Everard tragedy, the George Floyd verdict, and the ongoing global challenges to combat Covid-19.  In response to our Hilary newsletter and these aforementioned events, I spoke to several alumni to talk about their experiences.

Hearing these testimonies has taken me on a short historical and cultural journey, back to the end of the 20th Century when women’s colleges were first formed in Oxford, gaining support from forward thinking Dons and their wives. Most were formed between 1879-1894, during a short period of radical change, between larger lulls when the status quo prevailed.

Jump forward to 1958, a time when ‘sconcing’ still involved tankards and notes being passed in Latin. I heard from a male alumnus about the ripples of shock and awe amongst the (all-male) student body when the first women were allowed to attend Formal Hall at St John’s. Conversely, the account from one of the women mentioned their feeling of excitement to finally have a seat at the table.

The issues, of course, changed over time, and after women were no longer excluded from these educational settings problems arose, such as sexual harassment and work/life priorities.

The definition of a successful person has certainly changed over time, and gone are the days when women had a separate career service, drastically fewer college sports, and a sparsity of female academics, who either were not hired or simply did not apply for posts. From the ‘90s, there were more diversity policies entrenched in law and a change in the working culture at Oxford. For example, fewer meetings were scheduled after 5pm as childcare arrangements began to be shared out between parents. The gender gap began to close in the SCRs accordingly.

Hopefully, we can all see a vast improvement in the experience and potential opportunities for women. However, as the review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges shows, with 90% of female pupils encountering sexual harassment, there is still work to be done.

We would also like to take a moment to express a big thank you from the Steering Group to former Alumni and Benefactor Relations Officer, Alexandra Lindqvist Jones, who left St John's at the end of last week. We are immensely grateful for all Alex’s thoughtful, proactive and professional support. Her enthusiasm and efficiency will be missed in equal measure though we hope she will remain connected as an alumna of the community of St John’s Women.

I hope that you enjoy the pieces that we have assembled for you for this term's newsletter. As always, we welcome your responses to women@sjc.ox.ac.uk.

Rose Sundt (2015, Oriental Studies)
Communications Lead for SJC Women's Network
Click here to read more about Rose

Gender- the socio-cultural constructs surrounding biological sex - is among the most significant determinants of health, according to the 50/50 Report. Dr Kate Molesworth (1985, Human Biology), Health and Social Development Adviser at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, writes about the inequalities she has witnessed throughout her career and implores us to consider gender when planning public health policy. 

Click to read Kate's piece, titled Mind the Gap - the Persistence of Gender and Health Inequalities

The Women’s Network is pleased to present the recording of one of our recent events on Technology, Sport and the Menstrual Cycle.

During the event, the question was asked: why is the connection between the menstrual cycle and sport performance not talked about more widely? 

Luckily, the ‘in conversation’ event between Wild.AI founder Hélène Guillaume and JCR Member Issy Stephens discussed just that, covering topics as wide-ranging as periods, being a woman in the AI industry and challenging the default male.

Hélène was an engaging speaker, passionately encouraging viewers to create space and a name for themselves in their desired industries by not only consuming but also creating relevant content, as well as talking about data sets, increasing diversity in her industry and her enjoyment of surfing. A short question and answer session followed. Click to watch the event below.

Helene is the founder and CEO of WILD.AI, an app that optimises your training schedule based on your menstrual cycle. Helene studied Mathematics and has a Master’s in Financial Risk. She has had a varied career, ranging from quantitative analysis to management consultancy to Fortune500 companies, and this is reflected in the conversation that took place. She makes the case that women are not men, but products, services, and devices are designed with men in mind. 

 We are grateful to Helene Guillaume and Issy Stephens for participating in this discussion and for permitting us to share their discussion online. Please note: the following recording contains a small amount of strong language which may be offensive to some viewers and/or inappropriate for children.

Alex Bollen.jpgWe have recently welcomed new members to our Steering Group, including Alex Bollen (1991, History, pictured), who delivered a workshop for members who will be returning to work after becoming parents at the end of last week.

Click to read more about Alex

Does LinkedIn seem like a mystery to you? Do you want to know how to level up your profile and use this amazing tool to benefit your professional career?

Then join other members of the SJC Women's Network online for this informative lunchtime session so that you can make sure that the account you are creating is an asset.

This session will be led by Dr Mike Moss FRSC FRSA. Mike has given careers advice via Skype to over 6,000 Oxford alumni over the past eight years. He graduated with a PhD in Chemistry in 1988, but left academia aged 27 to join Procter & Gamble's Research & Development in 1990 based initially in Newcastle then Rome then Brussels, publishing 54 patents (twitter @54patents). Mike then returned to the UK in 2013 to join the University's Careers Service as Alumni Careers Programme Manager. In parallel with his coaching role in the University, he is a freelance innovation consultant, is Chair of the local Royal Society of Chemistry committee and spends a significant part of the year tending his vines and olive trees on his small farm just outside Rome.

When: Thursday 1 July 2021, 12pm-1pm BST.

Where: Online - joining instructions will be emailed to you the evening before the event



Don't forget to join our new SJC Women's Network group on LinkedIn

Click to join the group

Save the Date

Save the Date for what we hope will be a return to in person events. Members will be invited to join us for a full day of sessions, including panel discussions and a keynote, under the title Reflections of a President: Beyond 40 Years of Women on Saturday 18th September 2021. Keep an eye on your inbox!

Professor Brenda Stevenson, the inaugural Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair of Women's History, recently delivered a fascinating talk about 19th century pioneer Maria Stewart.

Click here to watch the recording