Royal Holloway College and Bedford College were originally founded to give women access to higher education. Both Colleges helped some remarkable women achieve great things.
Professor Helen Cam (1885-1968)
First female professor at Harvard
Cam’s career started at Royal Holloway College in 1904 with a scholarship to study history. She achieved a first. Cam went on to be a highly respected academic in medieval history, and was appointed professor at Harvard in 1948 – the first woman to hold the role. Cam also helped establish Hillcroft College with one of her contemporaries from Royal Holloway.
Hilda Martindale OBE (1875-1952)
Pioneering senior civil servant
In 1933, Hilda Martindale joined the Treasury and became one of the first women to reach the higher levels of the Civil Service. She argued strongly for equal pay and for women to be given the right to choose to stay in work after marrying, and wrote several influential reports and books.
Dame Margaret Miles (1911-1994)
Head of the first girls’ comprehensive school
As head of Mayfield School in Putney, Miles fought for comprehensive educational reform throughout her life by writing, speaking, debating and appearing on TV. As President of Bedford College’s Student Union she displayed natural leadership qualities, and became known for her courage, humour, pragmatism and common sense.
Dr Louisa Martindale (1872-1966)
Martindale championed women in the medical profession internationally and worked to open women’s hospitals throughout her life. She performed more than 7,000 surgeries, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians in 1933. She also pioneered radium treatment for cervical and ovarian cancer in Britain.
Professor Eva Germaine Rimington Taylor (1879-1966)
First woman to hold an academic chair of Geography in the UK
Taylor was awarded a scholarship to Royal Holloway and attained a first in Chemistry in 1903. The author of several books on Tudor geography, in 1930 she was appointed chair of geography by Birkbeck College. Her name lives on with The EGR Taylor lectures, which take place on her birthday in October every year at the Royal Geographical Society.
Kerstin Hesselgren (1872-1962)
First woman elected to the Swedish Parliament and first Swedish female delegate to the League of Nations
Hesselgren qualified as a Sanitary Inspector from Bedford College in 1905 and focused on improving the appalling health and living conditions for the working classes in Stockholm. These experiences guided her political career, and she was active in promoting women’s access to political positions, campaigning for equal salary, for the legalisation of sex education and birth control, and for the lowering of the punishment for abortion.
First woman to qualify as a chartered accountant
Watts studied at Bedford College in 1913 and was active in the movement to secure equality for women from the 1920s to 1960s. She focused on the taxation of married women, the marriage bar in the civil service (women were forced to stop working when they married), the issues of superannuation paid by women, and accountancy.
Dr Rosalind Pitt-Rivers (1907-1990)
Helped discover the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine T3
Pitt-Rivers was a pioneering biochemist linked with the discovery of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine T3 in 1952. She became the first woman president of the European Thyroid Association in 1971, and in 1973 was made a fellow of Bedford College.
Sarah Parker Remond (1815-1894)
African-American abolitionist and inspiring leader
Remond broke many barriers for women by travelling around the US and Great Britain in 1859, without a male escort, to make speeches against slavery. She attempted (sadly, unsuccessfully) to have New York’s state constitution reworded to 'expand rights to women and black people', and spent the rest of her life working in Italy as a physician.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (1903-1988)
Social reform activist
Chattopadhyay was active in the Indian Independence Movement and the All-India Women’s Conference. She travelled across Europe and initiated several social reform and community welfare programmes as well as setting up educational institutions for women, run by women. In the 1930s she became the first Indian woman to be arrested after entering the Bombay Stock Exchange to sell packets of contraband salt.
1849, Bedford College
Emily Wilding Davison
English, 1893, Royal Holloway College