Rhodes Visiting Fellowships, offered by the Rhodes Trust between 1968 and 2000, brought may outstanding young women to undertake post-doctoral study at the University of Oxford, and they remain very valued members of the global Rhodes community.
The Rhodes Visiting Fellowships were established in 1968 to enable extraordinary young women to study at Oxford, before the Rhodes Scholarships were able to be opened to women in 1976 following the British Sex Discrimination Act of 1975.
In 1968, the Warden of Rhodes House, Sir Edgar Williams, proposed that the then five women’s colleges should receive a female fellow from among the Rhodes territories for one or two years. In October 1968, it was agreed that the first fellowship should be offered for women to attend Lady Margaret Hall, which was the most senior women’s college. Women from the Commonwealth, South Africa and Rhodesia (as it then was) who were interested in pursuing post-doctoral studies were invited to apply. The appointed fellow would be expected to attend college meetings and do six hours of teaching per week.
The announcement of the Rhodes Visiting Fellowships was received very positively by overseas universities.
In February 1969, the Principal of Lady Margaret Hall wrote to the principals of the four other women’s colleges - Somerville, St. Hugh's, St. Hilda's, and St. Anne's - to extend the Rhodes Visiting Fellowships.
In 1976, when at the request of the Rhodes Trustees the UK Secretary of State for Education issued a 'modification order' under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Rhodes Scholarships were opened to women.
The first women Rhodes Scholars came to Oxford in 1977, and since then hundreds of outstanding young women have come to Oxford as Rhodes Scholars. This is reflected, for example, here (Scholar of the Week), here (Rhodes alumni videos), and here (an article on the prominence of Rhodes women in US public appointments).
A majority of the Rhodes Scholars elected for the Rhodes class of 2012 around the world are women. The Rhodes Women group among current Scholars offers many activities each term for Rhodes Scholars in Oxford.
Active discussion in the Rhodes community about encouraging and supporting young women to be leaders for the future is reflected here.
In the 1990s, around half of all Rhodes Scholars being elected were women. The Rhodes Visiting Fellows programme continued until 2000.
Many Rhodes Visiting Fellows have gone on to careers of distinction in diverse fields around the world, and remain grateful for the opportunities the Fellowship gave them.
Rhodes Visiting Fellows are encouraged to participate in Rhodes activities, including to visit Rhodes House, and are greatly valued members of the Rhodes community.
A list of Rhodes Visiting Fellows will be placed here soon. A list of all Rhodes Scholars and Rhodes Visiting Fellows is here.