Girls in STEM

Cheltenham Ladies' College pioneered science teaching for girls in the late 1800s, despite objections from many parents and members of the community that the subject was 'unladylike' and inappropriate. Since then, we have continued to be at the forefront of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) opportunities for girls and young women, enabling them to pursue careers in a wide range of fields.

For over 160 years our Guild members across the world have made many outstanding contributions to STEM fields; from Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake, who became the first female Master of Surgery in 1895, to Dame Mary Archer DBE, leading scientist and Chair of the Science Museum Group. 

Today, we continue to promote these opportunities for our girls and recent leavers. In 2015, we opened a new Engineering Enterprise and Technology (EET) Department, meaning that all girls in Lower College now study Engineering from the age of 11.

According to WISE, women make up 24% of the core-STEM workforce. At College, around a third of our girls go on to study STEM subjects at university each year.

In 2021, the most popular STEM courses pursued by our leavers were Medicine / Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Engineering / Mechanical Engineering, Biochemistry and Natural Sciences. Other STEM subjects chosen by our leavers included courses in Mathematics and Data Science, Physics with Astrophysics, Computer Science, and many more.

Our 2021 leavers went on to study STEM subjects at more than 20 different universities across the world. Popular university destinations for girls going on to study STEM subjects were BristolUCL, Imperial, KCL, ExeterCambridge and St Andrews.

Below are just a few of the inspirational Guild members (in alphabetical order) who, over the last 160 years, have been leaders in STEM fields.


Gwen Adshead Leading Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, formerly at Broadmoor Hospital 
Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake First female Master of Surgery
Dame Indrid Allen Leading scientist on MS
Dr Jasmin Ansar Sparks Professor and climate change economist
Dame Mary Archer Leading scientist and Chair of the Science Museum Group 
Dr Diana Bates Founder of the Wellspring Centre for psychotherapy
Dr Clara de Brereton-Evans First woman to take a doctorate in Chemistry
Dr Elizabeth Cass First female ophthalmologist in the Royal Army Medical Corps
Professor Clair Chilvers Co-founder of Mental Health Research UK
Dr Joy Dauncey Peter Debye Prize for outstanding contribution to Biomedicine
Dr Lillias Hamilton Pioneering doctor in India and Afghanistan
Dr Helen Mackay First female Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
Dame Clare Marx CBE First female President of the Royal College of Surgeons (2014-17). First woman Chair of the General Medical Council (2018)
Dr Alice McLaren One of the first five women to undertake a postgraduate medical research degree
Lucy Wills Leading haematologist who conducted pioneering research into the prevention of prenatal anaemia
Dr Sallie Woodrow Co-founder of the first birth control clinic in South Africa
Dr Helena Wright  Co-founder of the National Birth Control Council
Victoria Steele Superintendent Pharmacist, LloydsPharmacy
Dr Amalina Bakri Clinical Research Fellow at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London
Erica Charles Founder of renewable energy company Spirit Solar
Angela Haygarth-Jackson Pioneer and lecturer of information science
Antoinette Haysom Code-breaker at Bletchley Park during WWII
Gladys Hill Worked for MI5
Katy Winterbourn Legal (white-hat) hacker / IT security professional


Susan M Auld One of the first female naval architects
Dorothy Brown Among the first female Members of Institute Civil Engineers
Annie Hall First female member of the Society of Architects
Judith Ledeboer OBE Architect and housing reformer
Belinda Swain Chief Airworthiness Engineer at Rolls-Royce and WISE lifetime achievement winner 
Karen Small Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Flinders University, Australia
Emily So Lecturer in Architecture and Civil Engineering at Cambridge University
Nicola Armacost Managing Director at Arc Finance
Elisabeth Bassett Former Partner and COO at KPMG
Arabella Di Iorio Partner at Agon Litigation
Claire Griffiths Investment Fund Manager and former head of Invesco
Rachel Lomax First female Deputy Governor of the Bank of England (2003-08) and Deputy Chair of British Council 
Antigone Loudiadis Banker and Founder and CEO of Rothesay Life
Jane McCormick Global Head of Tax at KPMG
Clare Spottiswoode CBE First female head of a regulatory agency (Ofgas) (1993-98). Chairman of Xoserve
Lorna Tilbian Chairman of Dowgate Capital UK
Jada Wattanasiritham Banker and Director at The Siam Commercial Bank