Inspiring Woman: Daphne Jackson, OBE

Britain’s first female Professor of Physics, Daphne Jackson, was born in Peterborough, England, in 1936.  She attended her local grammar school and went on to study physics at Imperial College in London, one of two females in a class of 88 males. She became a lecturer and gained her PhD at (what is now known as) the University of Surrey.

In 1971, at the age of 34, she became Britain’s first female Professor of Physics and eventually rose to the position of Dean of the University, and held senior positions on a variety of boards.

“Imagine a society that would allow Marie Curie to stack shelves in a supermarket simply because she took a career break for family reasons.”

Aside from her notable scientific achievements, she was passionate about helping women return to work after a career break and was quoted as saying “Imagine a society that would allow Marie Curie to stack shelves in a supermarket simply because she took a career break for family reasons.”

“Qualified women who are unemployed or under-employed following a career break for family commitments represent an appalling waste of talent.”

We thought returnships were a relatively new concept, but Dr Jackson pioneered them back in 1985. What a visionary!

She said, “Qualified women who are unemployed or under-employed following a career break for family commitments represent an appalling waste of talent and of investment in their initial education. Many such women are eager to return to their original careers or to a new field of activity for which their initial education is relevant, provided that retraining can be given and that they can, at least initially, work on a part-time basis”.

Daphne was appointed an OBE in 1987.  Tragically, she died of cancer in 1991, aged just 54 years.

Fortunately, her legacy and vision live on through the Daphne Jackson Trust which was set up in 1992 and to date, has helped over 250 researchers back into the workplace.

Such an inspiring woman!

Gilly Cross
Gilly Cross

Gilly is a Kiwi in London, a mum of one, and a career-changer - from Forensic Scientist to Business Developer and Social Media Manager at Runneth London.

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