What are you most proud of as a woman?
25 years ago I was one of the first women ordained priest in the Church of England and have continued to work for a more gender inclusive church. (picture above)
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced to date as a woman?
Working for a Church that initially did not allow me to occupy the same roles as men. Working within male dominated organisations both in the Church and the College. Finding ways of constructively making these institutions more supportive of women.
What female figure has inspired you the most, and why?
Maude Royden (1876-1956), a campaigner for women’s suffrage, women’s ordination and women’s education. She was a gifted preacher and speaker. I first learnt about her when I was in my early twenties and she has been an inspiration to me since then.
What needs to change for women, worldwide, and why?
Education needs to be accessible for girls everywhere. Poverty impacts more on women and thus needs to be addressed from a feminist perspective. Maternal health needs to be prioritised in many countries. More women need to be enabled to participate in leadership positions from government to business to add their perspective to the decisions that shape our world.
How have the generations of women in your family changed, from one generation to the next?
My grandmothers were married fairly young and kept the home. Neither went to University. Both spent the years of the Second World War apart from their husbands. One suffered the social stigma of divorce after the war. Although, through necessity, both worked at various times in their life, one as a hairdresser the other as a school matron, neither had careers.
My mother did not go to University but did always work; first as a journalist and then in the charitable sector. She made a difficult choice to leave her husband and children for a second marriage.
My elder sister went to Cambridge and had a limited number of colleges to choose from as most were still single sex. She is now Professor of Developmental Biology at Cambridge University.
I went to Cambridge to Jesus College where I was the fifth year of women students. I have worked either full or part time in my chosen career whilst bringing up my children. I also completed a PhD in my 40’s. My marriage is a more equal affair than my foremothers and has lasted twice as long as my mother’s.
Rev Canon Dr Emma Percy is Welfare Dean and Chaplain of Trinity College.