Happy International Women’s Day! Here are eight of Bristol Uni’s most influential women

Let’s celebrate the women of Bristol University who have made waves in their fields


Yay, it’s International Women’s Day today! Everybody should take a moment to appreciate not only the fantastic women in their lives, but also the insanely successful women who have graced Bristol University. From journalists to activists to actors, Bristol has its fair share of inspirational women who have positively impacted all aspects of society.

We are incredibly lucky to have such an array of intelligent and influential Bristol women that it would be impossible to write about them all. So, here are just some of the most influential women of our city, from the past and the present.

Sarah Montague

Sarah is a journalist who currently presents The World at One for the BBC. She previously presented BBC Radio 4’s Today for 18 years, graduating Bristol in 1987 with a degree in Biology. Sarah initially worked as a stockbroker in the City of London before pivoting to journalism and joining ITV in 1991.

Carmen Beckford MBE

Although she didn’t graduate from Bristol Uni, Carmen Beckford definitely deserves a mention. Nicknamed the Carnival Queen, Carmen moved from Jamaica to Bristol at the age of 17 and trained to become a nurse, and then a midwife. Alongside her work as a midwife, she was extremely interested in social activism and became the first Race Relations Officer in Bristol. In 1967, she was instrumental in the setting up of the St Paul’s carnival which took place in 1968 and to this day, is one of Bristol’s most important events. In 1982, she was awarded an MBE by the Queen for her work against discrimination and injustices. The Beckford Bar in Senate House is named after this icon.

Deborah Moggach

Deborah is the author of 17, I repeat, 17 novels, including These Foolish Things which was adapted into the massively famous film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, amongst others. Deborah graduated in 1971 with a degree in English.

Susanna Reid

— Susanna Reid (@susannareid100) March 5, 2024

Continuing the journalistic theme, Susanna Reid is an award-winning TV presenter who has fronted ITV’s Good Morning Britain since 2014. Susanna studied politics and philosophy at Bristol, editing the university newspaper The Epigram, and beginning her career in journalism at BBC Radio Bristol.

Katya Adler

Another journalist! Bristol really knows how to churn them out. Katya is the BBC Europe Editor who graduated with a degree in German and Italian in 1995, with her dissertation focussing on denazification. Katya worked for The Times before moving to Vienna and working for an Austrian national public broadcaster. She speaks an impressive five European languages, plus Arabic and Hebrew if that wasn’t enough.

Angela Carter

As a University of Bristol alumni, Angela Carter was a English novelist, short story writer, poet, and journalist, graduating in 1964 with a degree in English. She is known for her feminist, gothic and magic realism works with her most famous book being The Bloody Chamber – an English Literature student’s favourite. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter 10th in their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.” All of her novels have received considerable critical acclaim and are now part of the literary canon.

Pearl Mackie

Pearl is a successful actor who plays Bill Potts in Doctor Who, as well as BBC One’s Doctors and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Pearl studied drama, graduating in 2008 before moving to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School where she completed her studies in 2010. Pearl was nominated for the BBC Carleton Hobbs Award for her roles in Noughts & Crosses

May Christophera Staveley

May Christophera Staveley created the first university hall of residence that allowed women from outside Bristol to study at the university. Staveley convinced Bristol University to purchase Clifton Hill House, the first hall of residence for women in south-west England. She was the warden of Clifton Hill House and also became president of the Bristol branch of the International Federation of University Women.

Sherrie Eugene-Hart

Sherrie Eugene-Hart was born in Bristol to Caribbean parents and studied English Literature and British Sign Language at Bristol University. She learned BSL as a means to communicate with her sister, who was born deaf. In 1982, she worked for HTV West and ITV West Country, becoming one of the first news interpreters for profoundly deaf people. She has received several national awards and received the prestigious Sir Ambrose Fleming Award from the Royal Television Society in 2018 in recognition of her outstanding services to television.

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