Women are an integral part of Imperial's history. Women at Imperial College: Past, Present and Future, researched and written by Archivist Anne Barrett, is a celebration of the rich legacy of women in science, technology, medicine and business who have studied and worked at Imperial since its inception.
Below, you can read a short selection of stories from the book about some of Imperial’s pioneering women.
Pioneering women at Imperial
More pioneering women
Lady Rachel Workman MacRobert, Geologist
In 1910, Lady MacRobert (1884–1954) was the first woman to attend Royal School of Mines lectures as a matriculated student. During the Second World War, to commemorate the deaths of her three sons in flying-related incidents, Lady MacRobert donated to the Royal Air Force (RAF) and eventually established the MacRobert Trust, a charity that supports the RAF to this day.
Margaret Reeks, Technical Artist
Margaret Reeks (1855-1937) was an illustrator and artist for the staff of the Royal School of Mines. She completed large teaching charts for classrooms and lectures, as well as technical worksheets and diagrams. Collaborating with the Natural History Museum and the Imperial Institute on drawings of crystals, she published her book Hints for Crystal Drawings in 1908. Margaret worked for Imperial until into her 70s.
Kate Barratt CBE (1844-1977), DSc Botanist
Kate Barratt (1844-1977) was awarded the Swanley Horticultural College Silver Salver for best student in 1904. She went on to study botany at Imperial, receiving her BSc in 1909, MSc in 1913 and DSc in 1920. During her studies, she also served as a research assistant in the Botany department and was made Lecturer in 1920. She eventually returned to Swanley Horticultural College in 1925 to serve as Principal.
Daphne Frances Jackson OBE, DSc Physicist
Daphne Jackson (1936-1991) was the first female physics professor in the UK. She was passionate about recruiting women into science careers and helped launch the Women in Science, Technology and Engineering (WISE) Campaign in the 1980s. After her death, the Daphne Jackson Trust was established, supporting female and male scientists in their return to research after career breaks.
Winifred May Watkins FRS, Haematologist and Immunologist
Winifred Watkins (1924-2003) researched blood groups and made several important contributions to the understanding of the ABO blood group system. In 1968, she became a professor at the Lister Institute. She later served as Head of Immunochemical Genetics at Northwick Park Hospital from 1975 to 1989. She then transferred to the Haematology Department at Hammersmith Hospital, where she worked until 2000.