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.
All UCL staff and students are invited to the evening event on 8 March 2018 - International Women’s Day - for curated tours of each of these exhibitions.
Details about the launch and other events and activities are presented below:
9 Jan 2018 - 8 Jun 2018, Free
UCL Art Museum
Prize & Prejudice is an exhibition and programmes dedicated to struggles and successes of prize-winning artists, mostly women, emerging from the Slade School of Fine Art during its foundation years.
Thursday 1 February 2018, 7-9pm
UCL Art Museum
Join us to commune with the Spirit of Slade Ladies Past over the course of this immersive evening event developed in collaboration with artist Tai Shani and UCL researchers. Amongst the cohort of Slade’s class of 1918, many had a keen interest in spiritualism and the occult. The context of WW1 appear to mark a particular turn to such practices as a means for those who lost loved ones to grieve and process the shock of the sudden end of lives and relationship brought on by the war.
Friday 2 February - 17 December 2018
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 up to the Representation of the People Act 1918. Satirical commentaries including Laurence Housman's Anti-Suffrage Alphabet are set alongside campaign literature and petitions for and against legislative change.
Turning landscape into colour
Thursday 1 March 2018
Five new paintings consisting of ochre colors created from waste generated by coal mine water treatment processes. Artist, Onya McCausland, as part of her PhD research has developed the new paint colours which will now be produced commercially by Windsor & Newton.
In Her Time
Thursday 1 March 2018
MA History / UCL ChangeMakers
Amid discussions provoked by exposés of sexual harassment in Hollywood and Westminster, and the gender pay gap at the BBC, 2018 is the ideal time to examine the impact of gender on our histories, and to celebrate and critique the diverse contributions of women and nonbinary people. We are creating an online platform to host articles and reviews crowd-sourced from the student body. Created by students for students, In Her Time will uncover hidden histories, while offering contributors the chance to share their work and learn from one another. The website will also host a regular podcast featuring academics, writers, activists, artists, filmmakers and more, discussing the the importance of gender to their work.
Kind to Women: How the 1967 Abortion Act changed our lives
Tuesday 6 March 2018
Film screening, panel dicussion and drinks reception, Free
Institute for Women's Health
A free film screening followed by a question-and-answer session with women featured in the film, and a drinks reception In this moving documentary, women who survived illegal abortion, the nurses who picked up the pieces when things went wrong, campaigning doctors and abortion rights advocates share vivid memories of the time, and bring to life the story of this groundbreaking legislation and of a historic turning point for women's rights. A drinks reception will follow in the South Cloisters of the Wilkins Building at UCL.
Disrupters and Innovators: Journeys in gender equality at UCL
Until Friday 9 September, 9am-7pm
Octagon Gallery, Wilkins Building
The first two decades of the 20th century were times of huge opportunity and significant barriers for women at UCL. This exhibition explores the contributions of some of them, in research and education and in broader society in that period. It uncovers lost or hidden histories which remain both inspiring and relevant today.
Friday 9 March 2018, 1:10pm
G13, 1-19 Torrington Place, Bloomsbury
Tick, Tock of the Biological Clock - Professor Joyce Harper, Professor in Genetics and Human Embryology Globally, 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 Harper is working on an arts project to increase fertility awareness and studying social egg freezing, which may help some women delay fertility.
Women in Queen Square: Celebrating the centenary of Votes for Women in the UK
8 March - 30 April 2018, Mon - Fri, 9am-7pm
Queen Square Library, 1st Floor, 23 Queen Square
This exhibition features photographs, objects, and documents from Queen Square Archives. Please see the Archives website for further information, including our opening hours.
Thursday 8 March - 27 April 2018
Since the first women got the right to vote in 1918, society has changed dramatically. UCL Female Firsts reflects on both the remarkable achievements of women progressing in areas where they were previously absent, and to consider more broadly progress and barriers towards equality. This new exhibition is a development of Women at UCL: Presence and Absence; exploring 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.
Monday 12 March 5:30-8pm
South Cloisters and Haldane Room, Wilkins Building
Exploring the role of women who promote science.
Dr Alice Bell will talk about the women involved in civic science in the 1970s. More info here.
Artist Jo Hurford will cover her experience of approaching UCL to question air quality and other environmental impacts of the development in the area. More info here.
Dr Louise Seaward on women participation in a highly technical and challenging digital humanities project which is a flagship project at UCL, with the Transcription of Bentham writing.
Prof Sarah Bell on the role of women in opening up engineering practice to help communities around UCL.
Dr Charlene Jennett will chair the event and provide a short opening note from her experience in researching citizen science.
Thursday 22nd May 2018 6:30-9pm
UCL Art Museum
Join us for a screening of Slade artist Sarah Pucill’s film Confessions To The Mirror (2016) and a discussion of gender, politics and space. It takes its title, from the French Surrealist artist, Claude Cahun’s (1894-1954) incomplete memoir (Confidences au miroir, 1945-1954). Following Cahun’s text, the film includes Cahun’s early and later life and work including her political propaganda activity and imprisonment in Jersey with her partner Suzanne Malherbe during the Nazi occupation of the island. The tracing of a life is made conscious through the projection of images of the couples home in Jersey into a domestic London setting.
Thursday 22 March 2018
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Drawing on the collection including the papyrus texts, life for women in Ancient Egypt will be under the spotlight in this talk as part of the Centenary of the Representation of the People's Act. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
The World of UCL
early June 2018 (TBC)
In this new edition of “The World of UCL”, Dr Georgina Brewis, often for the first time, tells the stories of the extraordinary women who built the university.
UCL Vote 100: Wikipedia edit-athon
Date and venue TBC
A Wikipedia edit-athon to increase the visibility of pioneering UCL women and to create a legacy for the UCL Vote 100 project. 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 pages.
October - December 2018
The House of Doors returns to UCL to celebrate the centenary of the first women in the UK getting the right to vote. Launched in 2015 at UCL, this public art project explores how society has changed as a result of women getting the vote. Fusing social history with action research and sculpture, the House of Doors has been touring for three years, travelling to both the first and last countries in Europe to grant women the vote. An immersive and experimental project that reworks public and institutional sites into a private members' club.
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 email@example.com.