Edinburgh Seven women honoured by university after 150 years

Pictured at Old College, seven current students at Edinburgh Medical School will collect the degrees on behalf of the women. Left to right, Violet Borkowska, Hikari Sakurai, Megan Cameron, Simran Piya, Caitlin Taylor, Izzie Dighero and Mei Yen Liew. (Photograph: MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY)
Pictured at Old College, seven current students at Edinburgh Medical School will collect the degrees on behalf of the women. Left to right, Violet Borkowska, Hikari Sakurai, Megan Cameron, Simran Piya, Caitlin Taylor, Izzie Dighero and Mei Yen Liew. (Photograph: MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY)
0
Have your say

A group of women who were among the first females to be admitted to a British university are being awarded posthumous degrees 150 years after they started their studies

The seven women, known collectively as the Edinburgh Seven, enrolled to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1869.

But they faced substantial resistance from their male peers and were ultimately prevented from graduating and qualifying as doctors.

Their campaign against this won them national attention and prominent supporters such as Charles Darwin.

In 1877, legislation was introduced to ensure women could study at university.

The seven women - Mary Anderson, Emily Bovell, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Sophia Jex-Blake, Edith Pechey and Isabel Thorne - will be awarded posthumous honorary Bachelor of Medicine degrees as part of a ceremony at the university’s McEwan Hall.

Seven female students from Edinburgh Medical School will pick up the certificates on their behalf.

Third-year medical student Simran Paya, who will collect an award on behalf of Sophia Jex-Blake, said: “We are honoured to accept these degrees on behalf of our predecessors, who are an inspiration to us all.”

Professor Peter Mathieson, the principal and vice-chancellor the University, said: “The segregation and discrimination that the Edinburgh Seven faced might belong to history, but barriers still exist that deter too many talented young people from succeeding at university. We must learn from these women and strive to widen access for all who have the potential to succeed.”