Women have played an important role in the life of Magdalen College ever since its foundation in 1458. Yet, for most of its 560 year existence, power has been firmly in the hands of men. This online exhibition raises questions about this power and the way it has been gendered. Why has power been dominated by men in institutions such as Magdalen? How have women accepted, used and resisted power structures within the College? In what contexts have women found ways to shape Magdalen, for themselves, for their peers, and for future generations?
This online exhibition traces a longer history of how since Magdalen's foundation in 1458 women influenced a college from which they were formally excluded. Women took on crucial roles most particularly as benefactors, staff, and relatives of the men who were members of College. Women's crucial work to sustain an all-male 'Society' can easily be overlooked. We have to look harder to find these peripheral and often disempowered women within the College's history, but they were always there.