Women's life in Oxford
Oxford has for most of its existence been a men's town. Men founded colleges, men studied, researched and taught there, men became famous. Women haven't played much of a role until the late 19th century when the first colleges for females were opened. This "tip" attempts to give a little bit of background knowledge about women's life in Oxford.
While a few of the older colleges (e.g. Balliol and Wadham) were founded by women, they mostly didn't have access to the colleges. The statutes of each college generally included a paragraph that "no woman can be a member of this college". Hence, they couldn't study there, nor could they become fellow. In most cases, even the scouts who were responsible for cleaning were male. In 1869, Cambridge started to change this predominance of men slowly but steadily. Girton College was founded - a women only college. A few years later, Cambridge's second exclusively female college opened its doors, Newnham. Only in 1878, Oxford followed. Lady Margaret Hall (or LMH as everybody calls it) was founded, a year later Somerville, in 1886 St. Hugh's, in 1893 St. Hilda's and in 1952 St. Anne's. The zeitgeist however was changing, so that very slowly Oxford's male colleges had to accept females. It is, from today's point of view, incredible just how long it took the colleges to make these changes. In 1920, women were granted membership of Oxford University. 54 years later, in 1974, the first all-male colleges (Jesus, Brasenose, St. Catherine's, Hertford and Wadham) accepted women. One must probably think of them as feminist avantgarde, being the first to take this step, even if it was only in 1974. But the female side was reluctant as well - St. Hilda's has accepted men only since 2008!
Today's situation is fortunately completely different. Female students are a perfectly normal sight: Out of roughly 11,500 students 5,500 are female. Female lecturers and fellows are common, too, albeit men still prevail in this field. The same is true for the college's highest post, most often called rector. There are only nine colleges which have a female head of house: Exeter, Keble, Merton, St. Antony's, LMH, Mansfield, St. Hilda's, Somerville and Wolfson. While Oxford seems to have come to a normal way of interaction with women, one number still gives reason for concern: For whatever reason, female students tend to get worse marks in their final exams.
Among the many well-known female students of Oxford were Benazir Bhutto (former prime minister of Pakistan), Helen Fielding (author of the "Bridget Jones" books), Indira Ghandi (former prime minister of India), Dame Iris Murdoch (author), Dorothy L. Sayers (author), Aung San Suu Kyi (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize), and of course Margaret Thatcher (the Iron Lady).