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More in this section Hidden heroines

Our hidden heroines

Bedford College and Royal Holloway College were two of the first higher education institutions devoted to the education of women in Britain. Many of our alumnae, from both colleges, were pioneering women who achieved firsts and paved the way for future generations to follow in their footsteps.

Many also helped improve the social, economic and living conditions of women in the 19th and 20th centuries. We still have a way to go to achieve equality but these women made progress and have inspired others to fight for this cause. Our 'hidden heroines' are pioneering women who studied at Bedford College, Royal Holloway College or Royal Holloway as it is today, that have perhaps been overlooked but are worthy of our recognition.

The first female professor at Harvard

A pioneering senior civil servant

Headmistress of the first girl's comprehensive school

Female surgeon and pioneer of radium therapy

The first woman to hold an academic chair in Geography in the UK

The first woman elected to the Upper House of the Swedish Parliament

First female chartered accountant

Pioneering scientist linked with the discovery of the thyroid hormone T3

African-American anti-slavery campaigner 

Freedom fighter and first Indian woman to be arrested


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