Friday, July 3, 1998 Published at 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Cambridge women return for their rights
Newnham College will host a graduation postponed by 50 years
Women who sat their final exams at Cambridge University more than 50 years ago will finally get their full degrees.
Until 1948, women students took the same degree courses and sat the exams as men, but were not allowed to take part in the graduation ceremonies and only received what were known as a "titular" degrees.
"It was a man's university and very much a man's club. They definitely didn't want that atmosphere disturbed," said pre-war student Edith Whetham who will be attending the reunion.
But such were the prevailing attitudes, she recalls, that women undergraduates were not resentful about the discrimination. "It didn't occur to us," she said.
Such attitudes, she suspected, were prompted by "the fear that if women became too clever they wouldn't become good mothers or mothers at all".
The recognition of the efforts of earlier generations of women students has generated much interest among the current undergraduates at Newnham College. "If it wasn't for their struggles we wouldn't be here," said Flora Gathorne-Hardy.
The granting of equal academic status was followed in 1948 by the presenting of the then Queen Elizabeth with the first honorary degree for a woman.