Lisa O'Neill was featured in the Journal 2018

40 years of women

In 2019, we celebrated 40 years since the first women were admitted to Fitzwilliam. Here you can find a selection of stories from some of our alumnae and students.

40 years of women at Fitz
Photo of 2019 College members

Professor Nicola Padfield interview

In celebration of 40 years since the first female students matriculated at Fitzwilliam, we have interviewed a wide range of Fitz alumnae and prominent women in the College. Where better to start than with Professor Nicola Padfield QC, Nicky Fitzwilliam’s first female Master?

Fitzwilliam's first female student

Women first matriculated at Fitzwilliam in 1979, but Lisa O’Neill arrived at the College 12 months earlier. She discovered she was the only woman on site and was accommodated in the infirmary wing. Here she shares her story.

From Fitzwilliam and fencing to a life of adventure

Fiona McIntosh (Land Economy 1980) competed in four Olympics as a fencer for Great Britain. She was in the second intake of women at Fitzwilliam.

An interview with Fitz Olympian Sarah Winckless

Sarah Winckless MBE (NatSci Physical 1993) won a bronze medal in the double sculls at the Athens 2004 Olympics, with Elise Laverick, and won world titles in the women’s quad in 2005 and 2006. 

From student to Master, Sonita hopes to inspire

Sonita Alleyne (Philosophy 1985) went to school with Sharon White (Economics 1985). Sonita, the new Master of Jesus College, reflects on her time at Fitzwilliam.

Sharon White considers how Fitz experience shaped her

Sharon White (Economics 1985) looks back on her time at Fitzwilliam. Sharon will swap her position as chief executive of communications regulator Ofcom to be executive chairman of the John Lewis Partnership in early 2020.

Ghadir Siyam sharing a passion for engineering

Ghadir Siyam (Engineering 2010) has a PhD in Engineering Design and is mentoring the next generation in her role at BP and with the Arab Innovation Network charity.

Rugby fan Sham on Fitz and an engineering career

Shamma Musthapha (Engineering 1991) shares her experience of Fitzwilliam and her career to date, and her desire to get more women into STEM careers.

'I just tried' - Krishnaa defies doubters to attend Fitzwilliam

Krishnaa Pandya (2013) completed a Medical Studies (Preclinical) degree at Fitzwilliam, after self-belief encouraged her to apply to Cambridge.

'Stop and smell the flowers', says Nuha

Nuha Al-Sha’ar (Asian & Middle Eastern Studies and Education 2003) completed postgraduate qualifications at Fitzwilliam and is now an associate professor at the American University of Sharjah. She shares her experience of Fitz.

Beth Rigby tells how a Fitz education prepared her to explain Brexit

Beth Rigby (Social & Political Sciences 1994) is Sky News Political Editor. Previously a newspaper journalist for the Financial Times and The Times, Beth has become a key figure in explaining Brexit to the nation. She shares her story.

Music, fashion and people - Kerry Potter loves telling stories

Kerry Potter (English 1993) is a freelance features journalist. She tells how she swapped Fitzwilliam for music, fashion and the mainstream media.

'The existing students didn’t quite know what had hit them'

Judith Bunting (Natural Sciences (Physical) 1979) was in the first intake of female undergraduate students at Fitzwilliam. She is now a Liberal Democrat MEP and is the Fitzwilliam Society President for 2019/20.

A magic musical experience at Fitzwilliam

Liz Woods (Natural Sciences (Biological) 1979) did not have a favourable initial impression of Fitzwilliam, but her experience transformed her view.

Fitz and Judge made World Bank role possible

Mei Ling Tan (Management Studies 1999) attended the Judge Business School. She is now Country Operations Officer for the World Bank in her native Malaysia. She shares her experience.

Fitz and food - MiMi Aye's culinary journey

MiMi Aye (Law 1998) takes us on a personal culinary journey from Peperamis, Waffle Wednesday and Dojo at Fitzwilliam, to a Burmese cookbook loved by Nigella Lawson.

Diversity drives Dame Helena

Dame Helena Morrissey (Philosophy 1984) is a trailblazer in the City, the founder of the 30% Club, Chair of the Diversity Project and a mother of nine. 

Jo's journey from Fitz to The Bank of England

Jo Place (Economics 1980) is the Chief Operating Officer at The Bank of England. She discusses her path from Fitzwilliam, via a brief career as a maths teacher, to The Bank.

'I use my legal training every minute of every day' - Melika Betley

Melika Betley (Law 1986) is the Chief Executive Officer for HSBC in Bahrain. Her experience at Fitzwilliam included cleaning bedrooms, working in a pub, and a half-blue for water polo.

Criminology at Cambridge sparks collaboration

Renee Mitchell (Criminology 2012) completed a PhD at Fitzwilliam. She is a co-founder of the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing.

History and music experience perfect for Price

Natalie Price (History 2012) on her studies, her love of music and her time in Scandinavia.

'I liked the contrast of the brutalist buildings and the warm community'

Clare Roberts-Garzaniti (Natural Sciences 1988) says 'There is something quite special about Fitz' as she tells of her time here.

Archaeology, anthropology and adaptability key for Bem

Bem Le Hunte (Archaeology & Anthropology 1982) tells us about her nomadic and varied career and why liminality is important in the modern world.

I had a contract to write three books while at Fitz

Catherine Banner (English 2008) is an author and published her first novel while at Fitzwilliam. She also encourages others to write stories.

Rowing and surgery ideal combination for Mary-Clare

Mary-Clare Miller (Medical Sciences 1993) is a consultant plastic and hand surgeon and was cox of the Cambridge team which won the 1996 Women’s Boat Race.

Fitz proves a lure for Annalise

Annalise Katz-Summercorn (Medical Sciences 2002) kept returning to Fitzwilliam in her medical training. The former Bye-Fellow shares her experience.

Hamburger Hill provides opportunity for Peng-Ean

Peng-Ean Khoo (Economics 1990) declined a five-year scholarship in Australia to attend Fitzwilliam and has followed her own, divergent path ever since.

English to entrepreneurship for swimwear chief Rosie

Rosie Cook (English 2007) worked in the City before her desire for a new swim costume saw her set up her own company.

'Most of the women in 1979 were quite strong willed'

Liz Makin (Economics 1979) was in the first intake of women at Fitzwilliam. She had some similar and some very different experiences to her daughter, Ellie Davies (Engineering 2010).

Ellie enjoyed following in her parents' footsteps

Ellie Davies (Engineering 2010) followed her parents to Fitzwilliam - but didn't tell anyone initially. She shares her experience.

Russia connection excites Sarah

Sarah Rainsford (MML 1992) tells us about a nickname earned playing football for Fitz and her career as a BBC Foreign Correspondent.

'You learn to make decisions very rationally and to stand by them'

Sherry Haque (Law 2002) swapped arguing for prosecutions to fighting fires in Canada and tells us about her experience.

Postgraduate study as a mother of triplets

Salwa Elhalawani (Geography 2008) is a single mother of triplets who left her home in Egypt to pursue postgraduate education in Cambridge. She tells her story.

'The personality of an institution can endure through the generations'

Helen Bettinson (History 1982) was an undergraduate at Fitzwilliam and returned to the College to work in the Development office, serving as Development Director until 2016.

Music, Fitz and theology mould Maggi

Maggi Dawn (Theology and Religious Studies 1993) has had an unconventional route to become Professor of Theology and Principal of St Mary’s College, Durham.

Helen is both student and teacher at Fitz

Helen Price (Education 2010) is a current Fitzwilliam student, as well as Executive Headteacher at Hampton Academies Trust, Peterborough. She shares her experience.

Psychology and theatre passions for Charlotte

Charlotte Bevan (Social & Political Sciences 2004) focused on psychology, with her fascination extending into her job as head of the Creative Diversity Project at the National Theatre.

From Fitzwilliam to the film industry

Helen Grace (Law 1991) tells us about her experience at Fitzwilliam and a career in film.

Fitz formative in Catherine’s art education

Catherine Wood (History of Art 1992) discusses how her experience at Fitzwilliam contributed to her role as Senior Curator, International Art (Performance) at Tate Modern.

Sustainability and fairness drive Pins

Pins Brown (MML 1992) has long had an interest in fairness, which has translated into her role as Head of Ethical and Sustainable Sourcing at The Body Shop. She shares her story.

Feeling at home at Fitz

Ema Demir, who  began her PhD in Education in 2018, reflects on the celebration of 40 years of women at Fitzwilliam College.

The opportunities here are really something special

Cerys Evans (Medical Sciences 2019) finds Fitzwilliam College a place where everybody's potential is developed in a supportive environment.

'It's much more relaxed than I anticipated'

Aisha Wheatley (Modern and Medieval Languages 2018) speaks of her love of the gardens and music events at Fitzwilliam College.

'Fitzwilliam is one of the most welcoming, inclusive colleges'

Women’s welfare officer for Fitz JCR Alexandra Jarvis (Modern and Medieval Languages 2019) reflects on the inclusive nature of Fitzwilliam College.

'Fitz is supporting my studies through funding my PhD'

History PhD student Phoebe Heathcote discusses "imposter syndrome" and ways to find inspiration.

'Fitz feels like home'

History undergraduate Lauren Westwood reflects on keeping things in perspective.

Ronja celebrates diversity of Fitz

Philosophy postgraduate student Ronja Griep is proud of how far Fitzwilliam College has come in the past 40 years. 

Proud and inspired by the women of Fitz

Proud and inspired by the women of Fitz: Elif (MML 2019) won an award last year for her work with World-Class Schools - here she talks about 40 years of women at Fitz.

'Friendly students and very supportive staff'

International student Ana Luisa Rubio-Jimenez is studying Educational Psychology - she talks about her commitment to widening participation and inclusivity.

'The community at Fitz is hardworking, diverse, and very friendly'

Ariel de Fauconberg chose Fitzwilliam College for its holistic view on student success and wellbeing, its international student body, and for the friendly and active social scene in the MCR.

'I chose Fitzwilliam because of its impressively inclusive history'

Simina Dragos is a postgraduate student at Cambridge's Faculty of Education and an activist for Roma rights.

'The friendliness of the environment struck me'

English undergraduate Keri McIntyre discusses the friendly environment she enjoys at Fitzwilliam College.

Empowered by the achievements of former female students

Erasmus student Mayu Uno shares her experiences of the friendliness of Fitzwilliam College and its welcoming student community.

Following in her family's footsteps

Undergraduate Harriet Bradnock followed two previous generations of her family to study Geography at Fitzwilliam College.

Something to celebrate

Undergraduate Beth Brown (Medical Sciences 2018) explains the benefits of small supervisions and the collegiate system at Cambridge.

Fitz family is so supportive

Postgraduate student Emily Lees reflects on the Fitz family spirit she has enjoyed throughout her PhD.