"I find the world endlessly interesting" - Sandi Toksvig OBE delivers this year's Lee Lecture

Lee Lecture - Sandi Toksvig

With her trademark wit and candour, Sandi Toksvig delievered this year's Lee Lecture to a packed room, addressing what she terms "the global and systemic problem in the dissemination of knowledge."

Lee Lecture - Sandi Toksvig

"Whenever I search for anything, I always search for the women in the story."

As a Cambridge alumna, Sandi has returned to the University this year after being awarded the first Qantabrigian Q+ Fellowship by the LGBTQ+ research programme, which is based in the Department of Sociology. During her lecture, Sandi talked about the Mappi Mundi project she is working on as part of her Fellowship: a digital resource documenting women’s position, achievements and struggles across the globe.

“Of the almost 2 million biographical articles in English Wikipedia - in September 2023 when they measured it - less than 20% were about women. And the biographies that do exist are considerably more likely to be nominated for removal than articles of men.” 

Sandi's project aims to bring together her extensive research into global inequality, both to demonstrate the scale of the issue, and to act as a repository for the stories from the past and present that have largely been overlooked. 

In a talk that covered everything from the history of pineapples (a nod to the Lecture's donor, Dr Lee Seng Tee, who made his fortune with the fruit) to the constructs of power, sexual violence against women, and intrinsic bias in coding, Sandi closed with an image from the Cueva de las Manos, the "Cave of Hands" in Santa Cruz, Argentina that has rock art dating back nearly 10,000 years. 

"This art was long attributed to men. The most recent research suggests, based on the size and shape of the handprints, that they belong to women. Not only that, but these stencilled hands are the hands of the cave artists. They were a sort of signature: 'I am here, and my fingers betray that I am a woman.' Look at those magnificent women's hands, hauled up from the past. Let's put our own together and make a difference."

Book Display

For this year's Lee Lecture, Wolfson's Library team curated a special display of books written by past and present female Fellows of Wolfson to coincide with Sandi's theme. Although much of their work is published in journals, this display showcases a selection of books and chapters to demonstrate the place of women in the research life of the College. The display is currently on view outside of the Dining Hall. 

Lee Seng Tee Distinguished Lecture

Taking place annually, the Lee Seng Tee Distinguished Lectures bring leading academics and international figures to Wolfson. It was endowed by Dr Lee Seng Tee in 2005 on the occasion of the College’s 40th anniversary and is a major event in the academic year at Wolfson.

What's on

Cover of "Red Rag" magazine featuring a stylized red and black illustration of a woman with flowing hair, alongside text and a headline about women’s liberation.

Varieties of Togetherness: Some Approaches to Feminist Art History

21/05/2024 at 17.30

How might methods of feminist political organising offer transformative methods for art history? 

Two sets of hands making a pot on a pottery wheel

Show me your bowl and I’ll tell you who you are

28/05/2024 at 17.30

How can material culture be used to reconstruct ancient human stories?

Abstract marble sculpture with interconnected shapes and voids, displayed on a black pedestal against a draped white background.

Sculpture unveiling: Essay on Reticulations

28/05/2024 at 18.30

Join us for the unveiling of Essay on Reticulations, a new sculptural work at Wolfson College.

Wolfson Head Gardener in a white hat explaining features of green plants to visitors in an outdoor setting.

Wolfson Garden Tour: A World Environment Day Celebration

05/06/2024 at 16.45

What solutions is the Wolfson Garden employing to grow trees, revive water sources and rejuvinate soil?

 A man plays a french horn in an orchestra, surrounded by other musicians with sheet music stands visible.

Lunchtime Concert: Wolfson Chamber Group

08/06/2024 at 13.30

Hear the Wolfson Chamber Group perform at this Saturday lunchtime concert.