The School of Public Health hosts an annual lecture from a notable female academic working in public health. The event aims to increase the visibility of female academics. Below you can learn more about previous lectures and guest speakers.

2016 | An Editor's view

Dr Fiona Godlee delivers the 2016 School of Public Health Athena Swan lectureSpeaker: Dr Fiona Godlee FRCP, Editor, British Medical Journal
Date: 2 March 2016

Fiona Godlee has been Editor in Chief of The BMJ since 2005. She qualified as a doctor in 1985, trained as a general physician in Cambridge and London, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. She first joined The BMJ in 1990 and has written and lectured on a broad range of issues, including health and the environment, the ethics of academic publishing, evidence-based medicine, access to clinical trial data, research integrity, open access publishing, patient partnership, conflict of interest, and overdiagnosis and over treatment. As Editorial Director for Medicine from 2000-2002, she helped to establish the open access publisher BioMedCentral. She is on the advisory or executive boards of Alltrials, the Peer Review Congress, the International Forum for Quality and Safety and Healthcare, Evidence Live, Preventing Overdiagnosis, and the Climate and Health Council. She was a Harkness Fellow (1994), President of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) (1998-2000), Chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (2003-5), and PPA Editor of the Year (2014). She is co-editor of Peer Review in Health Sciences. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children.

2014 | Going to university will ruin your life‌

Baroness Manningham-Buller delivers the 2014 School of Public Health Athena Swan lectureSpeaker: Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller
Date: 27 November 2014

Eliza Manningham-Buller, who read English at Oxford, joined the Security Service (MI5) in 1974. She was promoted to its Management Board in 1993 and, at various times, led the Service’s work on technical intelligence collection surveillance, finance, IT and Irish terrorism. She became Deputy Director General in 1997, in charge of the Service’s operations, before being appointed Director General in 2002. She retired in 2007.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, 66, was awarded the DCB in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2005 and became a Life Peer in 2008, sitting on the cross benches in the House of Lords. She is currently a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. She is also Governor of the Wellcome Trust.

In 2014 Baroness Manningham-Buller was made a Lady of the Garter by Her Majesty the Queen.

2013 | What women can do to stay healthy‌

Professor Dame Valerie Beral delivers the 2013 Athena Swan lectureSpeaker: Professor Dame Valerie Beral DBE AC FRS, Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford
Date: 11 September 2013


Professor Dame Beral studied medicine at Sydney University, Australia. After a few years of clinical work in Australia, New Guinea and the UK, she spent almost 20 years at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine working in the Department of Epidemiology. In 1988 she became the Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit in Oxford. Major focuses of her research include the role of reproductive, hormonal and infectious agents in cancer. She is Principal Investigator for the Million Women Study and leads the international collaborations on breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer.


Many women want to know what they can do as young adults and in middle age to remain healthy as they age. Much of Professor Beral's research over the last forty years has been devoted to addressing this question. The Million Women Study, a prospective study of 1.3 million women was started 15 years ago, and has provided many answers. The effects of tobacco, alcohol, obesity, diet, physical activity, social factors and many other things can be compared directly in the same population, giving women an indication of the relative importance of each for their subsequent health.

What can women do lecture 2013 (PDF)

2012 | Women's health, equity and public health interventions‌

Professor Dame Sally Davies delivers the 2012 School of Public Health Athena Swan lectureSpeaker: Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government
Date: 27 June 2012

Dame Sally became Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government on 3 March 2010. She retains responsibility for Research and Development and is the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health.

Dame Sally is an independent advisor to the Government on medical matters, with particular responsibilities regarding Public Health. She provides professional leadership for Directors of Public Health and will lead a public health professional network for those responsible for public health services. She is professional head of the Department’s medical staff and head of the Medical Civil service

Sally has been actively involved in NHS R&D from its establishment and founded the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) with a budget of £1 billion.

Sally has led UK delegations to WHO summits and forums since 2004 and has played an active role on numerous international committees including WHO Global Advisory Committee on Health Research (ACHR). She has advised many others on research strategy.
Professor Dame Sally Davies discussed two areas; the main public health issues concerning women in today's society and the progress towards better representation for women throughout the medical professional and academia. She considered challenges to women's health that relate to their sex (such as maternal obesity, sex specific cancers etc) and to their gender (such as domestic violence). She looked at how addressing these challenges would help improve the health of the whole population. Linking these wider issues to women in academia and the medical profession, she discussed how these professions have changed as women have played a more leading role. Dame Sally focussed on the opportunities for improving the health of the whole population by ensuring women have a leading role in the planning and provision of health services and by taking equal part in determining the research agenda.
Download a copy of Dame Sally Davies' lecture: A Women’s Equity Issue‌ (PDF)