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Sunday, July 4, 1999 Published at 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK


Impact of bright women

What effect have women had since joining higher education?

A conference is exploring the effect women have had since breaking into higher education and whether there is 'a female intellect'.

Top academics from the UK and the US are taking part in the Women and Brainpower conference at Royal Holloway, University of London, on Sunday.

Also up for debate is the question of whether there is a specifically female intellect.

The three-day conference is being held to mark the launch of a new research centre and archive at the university, called The Bedford Centre for the History of Women.


The conference's main lecture - What does it mean to be a woman? - will be delivered by one of the centre's two directors, Professor Lyndal Roper.

Prof Roper said the launch of the centre on the anniversary of the founding of Bedford College "celebrates the contribution of women to intellectual and cultural life over the last 150 years".

"It recognises that women have come of age now, with a new generation of scholars building on the achievements of the path-breaking works of the 1970s and 1980s," she said.

Training the next generation

"The Bedford Centre is a way of drawing this work together and reflecting on where the subject is going now.

"It provides a base for training the next generation and gives institutional support to women's history."

[ image: Helena Kennedy: Guest speaker]
Helena Kennedy: Guest speaker
The opening of the centre in Egham, Surrey, marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of Bedford College, the first institution in the UK to offer higher education to women.

The college was founded as the Bedford Centre for the Education of Women by Elizabeth Jesser Reid. It changed its name to Bedford College in 1945 when the first men were admitted.

In 1985 it merged with Royal Holloway College, another college founded for women, to form Royal Holloway, University of London.

Its other director, Dr Amanda Vickery, will chair a panel discussion on women and creativity.

A public guest lecture will be delivered before the Bedford Centre's official opening on Tuesday by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, women's rights campaigner and Chair of the Further Education Funding Council's committee on widening participation.

  • The photo at the top of this article shows the Bedford College hockey team, circa 1886/87. Courtesy of Royal Holloway.

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