It is an arresting sight – along the walls of a hall within Girton College is a series of photographs depicting early female students of the college. Dressed in a fashion long since dated, many are pictured with solemn expressions, yet with racquets and other sporting equipment in their grasps.
As the first college in the university established for women, Girton is undoubtedly making a point with these photographs – these are the pioneers, the precedents, and it is in these touches throughout the university that I am reminded of the long battle to where we are today.
In this spirit, two other exhibitions hosted by the university are worthy celebrations of women’s achievements – the first is Murray Edwards College’s New Hall Art Collection and the second is the Centre for Computing History’s exhibition on women in computing.
The New Hall Art Collection is a permanent showcase of modern and contemporary artists by female artists, and now features over 450 art pieces.
The college describes inspiration for the collection to be “Murray Edwards College’s role as a women’s college and its sympathetic setting for contemporary art”, and it now has the distinction of being the most significant collection of its nature in Europe.
Located in Murray Edwards’ famous Dome, the collection features the work of artists including Mary Kelly, Sandra Blow and Anthea Alley.
The New Hall Art Collection successfully evokes social and historical themes alike, as it charts through its art the achievements of women in the visual arts of over 50 years. From the abstract to still life, the portrait to the landscape, Murray Edwards’ collection is far an artistic statement in more ways than one.
While its name might evoke a very different set of associations, Cambridge’s Centre for Computing History’s temporary Computing History: Where Did All the Women Go? charts too the historical achievements of women. Running from 5 October to 26 October, it celebrates the work of women including Ada Lovelace, widely regarded as the first programmer, and Delia Derbyshire, the composer of the 1960s Doctor Who theme song.
Closer to home is a talk by Professor Jean Bacon, who, in 1985, was the first woman to be appointed to a Lectureship in Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory. Other events at the centre include a film screening of the acclaimed Hidden Figures and a pop-up exhibition on women in gaming.