100 years of women’s right to vote - Celebrating the pioneering women of UCL
Join us in celebrating 100 years since women first won the right to vote through a rich and dynamic programme of exhibitions and events highlighting the pioneering work of women at UCL.

UCL Vote100

The Representation of the People Act, passed on 6 February 1918, extended the right to vote to women of a certain age and economic status. Ten months later, on 14 December 1918, 8.5 million women voted for the first time.

Forty years before this, UCL became one of the first universities in England to admit women on equal terms with men.  

“These events will give us an eye-opening insight into the barriers women have faced at UCL and in the wider world, and how far they were able to reach despite them. It is also an important opportunity to examine where equality is still to be achieved and learn from the past. I’m delighted that UCL is playing such an active role in celebrating this centenary year, and I think it will provoke a lot of debate about how far we have come and how far we still need to go."

—UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur


Exhibitions that will run across the year include: Prize & Prejudice, an exhibition in the UCL Art Museum that shines a light on the women who won the coveted Slade Prize;  UCL Female Firsts, a series of contemporary art works honouring female academics ranging from leading Bletchley code-breaker Mavis Batey to the UK’s first female doctor Elizabeth Garrett Anderson; Disrupters and Innovators, an exhibition in the Octagon Gallery that celebrates the perseverance, originality and ingenuity of female students and staff at UCL in breaking down gender barriers; and Dangers and Delusions? Perspectives on the women’s suffrage movement presents satirical commentaries, campaign literature, personal notes and petitions in order to examine the actions and reactions surrounding the case for universal suffrage.

Details about the launch and other events and activities are presented below.


Winifred Margaret Knights, Portrait of a Young Woman / Portrait of Anna Fryer (detail), 1920 © Sacha Llewellyn on behalf of the artist's estate

Disrupters and Innovators: Journeys in gender equality at UCL
Until Feb 2019
Free exhibition
Octagon Gallery, UCL

Explore the lasting contributions to research, teaching and wider society of female students and staff at UCL a century ago. This exhibition is dedicated to a group of remarkable women whose lives and careers were shaped by what they learnt, taught and researched at UCL. Read more

Dangers and Delusions'Dangers and Delusions'? Perspectives on the women’s suffrage movement
Until 17 Dec 2018
Free exhibition
UCL Main Library

Displaying items from UCL Special Collections, this exhibition examines the actions and reactions attending the women's suffrage movement from the 1860s to the Representation of the People Act 1918. See satirical commentaries including Laurence Housman's Anti-Suffrage Alphabet alongside campaign literature and petitions for and against legislative change. Read more

Five Colours, Five Landscapes
Until autumn 2018
Free exhibition
South Cloisters, UCL

See five new paintings consisting of ochre colours created from coal mine water treatment sites across the UK.  Artist Onya McCausland has developed the new paint colours as part of her PhD research, and these colours will now be produced commercially by Windsor & Newton.

UCL Female Firsts
UCL Female Firsts
Throughout 2018
Free exhibition
South Cloisters, UCL

UCL Female Firsts reflects on women's remarkable achievements and progress since 1918, when the first women secured the right to vote in the UK. This exhibition is a development of Women at UCL: Presence and Absence, which explores the institutional change that has taken place since the founding of UCL in 1826 – from the initial decision to admit women in 1878 to the re-negotiating of spaces and positions that is still taking place today. Read more

Design by Justin Badger, image by Seungwon Jung

25 Sep - 14 Dec 2018
Free exhibition and events
UCL Art Museum

Slade artists Sophie Bouvier Ausländer, Katherine Forster, Seungwon Jung, Zeinab Saleh and Naomi Siderfin, redress the contemporary relevance of the once celebrated practice of drapery drawing. Join us for artist performances and workshops in October and November. Read more

Events and online content:

House of DoorsThe House of Doors
Oct - Dec 2018
Free public art

The House of Doors project returns to UCL to mark the centenary of the first women in the UK getting the right to vote. Launched in 2015 by UCL Artist-In-Residence Kristina Clackson-Bonnington, this public art project explores how society has changed as a result of women getting the vote. Read more.

UCL at nightThe World of UCL
Date and venue TBC
Free event

Your first chance to see this updated edition of the book charting the history of UCL, from 1826 to the present day. Written by Georgina Brewis, Negley Harte and John North, the book tells the stories of the extraordinary women who built the university. Read more

UCL Vote 100: Wikipedia edit-athon
Date and venue TBC
Free event

Take part in this special event, to improve Wikipedia and increase the visibility of pioneering UCL women online. As part of the UCL Global Citizenship Programme, teams of UCL staff and students will come together in sessions led by Wikipedia to build, edit and connect articles online.

Black and white photo showing a woman sitting inside with children around her
Kind to Women: How the 1967 Abortion Act changed our lives
Online: kindtowomen.com
This moving documentary brings to life the story of this groundbreaking legislation and highlights this historic turning point for women's rights. People share their vivid memories of the time, including women who survived illegal abortion, the nurses who picked up the pieces when things went wrong, campaigning doctors and abortion rights advocates. The film is free to watch online. It was also screened at the UCL Institute for Women's Health on 6 March 2018 as part of 2018's Vote 100 programme.

In Her Time
Online: inhertimeucl.com

A UCL-based journal and podcast devoted to the exploration of gender history, created with UCL ChangeMakers / MA History. This online platform hosts articles and reviews created by students for students. The website also hosts a podcast featuring academics, writers, activists, artists, filmmakers and more, discussing the the importance of gender to their work. It was launched on Thursday 1 March 2018 as part of 2018's Vote 100 programme.

Parliament and Me
Listen to our new podcast celebrating Parliament Week 2018, featuring UCL thinkers - experts in their field - and the women who have inspired them along their way. 

Past programme:

Ladies of the SladeThe Spirit of Slade Ladies Past
Thu 1 Feb 2018
UCL Art Museum

A chance to commune with the Spirit of Slade Ladies Past. This immersive evening event was developed with artist Tai Shani and UCL researchers. Amongst the Slade’s class of 1918, many had a keen interest in spiritualism and the occult. WWI seems to have prompted people to turn to such practices as a means for those who lost loved ones to grieve sudden death and the end of relationships.

Right time to have a babyUCL Lunch Hour Lecture
Fri 9 Mar 2018
Free lecture
G13, 1-19 Torrington Place, Bloomsbury

Tick, tock of the biological clock. Women are increasingly delaying the birth of their first child, as they lead very different lives to their mothers. But a woman’s fertility declines with age, significantly so by the mid-30s. Professor Joyce Harper, Professor in Genetics and Human Embryology Globally, is working on an arts project to increase fertility awareness and studying social egg freezing, which may help some women delay fertility.

Jo HurfordRepresentation of the people in science: Women in civic and citizen science
Mon 12 Mar 2018
South Cloisters and Haldane Room, Wilkins Building

An opportunity to explore the role of women who promote science, chaired by Dr Charlene Jennett, who opened the event with a note about researching citizen science. The panel included science writer Dr Alice Bell, talking about women involved in civic science in the 1970s; artist Jo Hurford sharind her experience of approaching UCL about air quality and other environmental impacts of the development in the area; Dr Louise Seaward discussing women's participation in a highly technical and challenging digital humanities project at UCL; and Prof. Sarah Bell on the role of women in engineering.

Image of glass wedjet eye Women in Egypt
Thu 22 Mar 2018
Free talk
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Drawing on the collection including the papyrus texts, this talk put life for women in ancient Egypt under the spotlight.

Women in Queen Square: Celebrating the centenary of Votes for Women in the UK
Until 30 Apr 2018
Free exhibition

UCL Queen Square Library, 23 Queen Square
Explore photographs, objects, and documents from Queen Square Archives. The library received a wide range of nominations for women past and present to appear in the exhibition, which features Anita Harding, Patricia Limousin and Jenny Vaughan. Read more

(detail from) Dorothy Coke, Female Figure Standing, 1918, UCL Art Museum 5219

Prize & Prejudice
9 Jan - 8 Jun 2018
Free exhibition
UCL Art Museum

An exhibition and programmes dedicated to the struggles and successes of prize-winning artists, mostly women, emerging from the Slade School of Fine Art during its foundation years. Read more

Confessions to the Mirror, Image copyright Sarah Pucill

Confessions to the Mirror
Tue 22 May, 6:30-8:00pm
Film screening, £5
UCL Art Museum

Join us for Slade artist Sarah Pucill’s film Confessions To The Mirror (2016) and a discussion of gender, politics and space. The film includes French Surrealist artist Claude Cahun's life and work, including her political activity and imprisonment in Jersey with her partner Suzanne Malherbe during the Nazi occupation of the island. After the screening, Sarah Pucill will be in conversation with art historian Maria Walsh. Book tickets now

Marion Wallace-Dunlop, The Magic Fruit Garden (detail), 1889. Design: Angela Scott, UCL Digital Media

The Magic Fruit Garden – a prologue to Disrupters and Innovators
Summer 2018
Free exhibition
Octagon Gallery, UCL

A prologue to UCL's Disrupters and Innovators.  This preview exhibition focuses on an illustrated book by Marion Wallace-Dunlop (1864-1942), who was an artist, writer and lifelong campaigner for women’s rights, and studied at UCL. Read more


If you are If you planning an event at UCL that could be part of these celebrations we would love to hear from you. Please email the project team at culture.centenary@ucl.ac.uk.

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