Women at Downing

In 2020, Downing marked the 40th anniversary of the admission of female students to the College. We have acknowledged and celebrated Downing women past, present, and future through a series of events, activities, and communications. As Alan Bookbinder, the Master of Downing in 2020, put it: “In October 1980, 24 women, our first cohort of female students, matriculated at Downing. They joined a community of just over 300 men and one woman Fellow. 40 years on we are celebrating the achievements of these 24 pioneers and all the Downing women who have followed them. The College was a late starter in admitting women, but we have made up for lost time to establish ourselves firmly as a place of welcome, diversity, and inclusion for all.”

A wall in the boat club dedicated to the 40 years of Women at Downing, 2020
A wall in the boat club dedicated to the 40 years of Women at Downing, 2020

Please check out the page on the Downing College Alumni website for more information about the event celebrating 40 years of Women at Downing. The Downing College website all contains more details about celebrating the Women at Downing, including a timeline of the admissions of women at Downing.

W1 - Lents Headship, 2020
W1 – Lents Headship, 2020

On the rowing side, we are always proud to celebrate the women we have in our squad. There is no separate men’s and women’s club; we are one club, and one squad. We all work together, men and women, to be the best we can, pushing each other to reach our full potential. We all work to the same high level and standard to achieve excellent results. We all love being a part of Downing College Boat Club, and, personally, I couldn’t imagine DCBC without the women I have come to know and love.

Since admitting in 1980, women quickly took to the waters in full force to show how strong Downing women are. The success of the 1980s for the men carried over into the women’s side of the club as well. Downing’s women put their first crew out in the 1981 Lents. They remained fairly stationary until 1987, but then began a meteoric rise – blades were secured for the next three years.

W2 - Lent Bumps, 2020
W2 – Pulling off superblades at Lent Bumps, 2020

In 2004, Downing W1 achieved their first headship at the Lent’s Bump, and continued to gain the headship another 5 times, putting them at 6 Lent Headships, joint 2nd with Jesus for the number of Lent Women Headships, (behind Emmanuel at 11!). At the Mays, Downing achieved their first headship in 2011, going on to hold the title 3 years in a row between 2014 and 2016. We stand at 5 May W1 Headships, just behind Jesus, Pembroke, and Churchill. Considering they have only been at Downing for 40 years, these are some amazing results that we are so incredibly proud of, as the team of Downing College Boat Club.

More information on the results can be found on the Wikipedia pages for the Lents and the Mays. Even excluding our first boat, our second, (and sometimes third) women’s boats at the bumps always put up a brilliant performance, with W2 in the 2020 Lent Bumps pulling off the rare superblades – an amazing achievement! You can check out all of our race results on our page – look for the tables for the bumps results.


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