Research Files.JPG


The Rhodes Project has been collecting data about women Rhodes Scholars since 2005.  During the initial phase of data collection, researchers identified 446 women (now living all over the world) who had studied at the University of Oxford as Rhodes Scholars between 1977 and 1995. On 5 July 2004, the founder of the Rhodes Project, Dr Ann Olivarius, sent a personal letter to 375 (84%) of them (all those for whom contact information could be found), asking them to fill out questionnaires and tell them about their lives and career paths. 

Dr Olivarius' three-page, single-spaced letter describes the impetus for the Rhodes Project, including its point of origin in a conversation she had had with a fellow Rhodes Scholar from Zimbabwe in which she described them both as "leading lives of our own design." Two hundred and ten women (56%) responded to this initial request for information and returned completed questionnaires. The topics covered included finances, health, career choices, politics, sexuality, and feminism. A second, anonymous survey was conducted in 2005. One hundred and fifteen Rhodes women (31% of those for whom contact information had been found) returned completed questionnaires and, despite not being asked, many of them signed their names. Topics covered in this second survey included family background, current living arrangements, activism, politics, the meaning of the Rhodes experience, success, health and sexuality.

Over the next several years more than 100 women were contacted and interviewed. The interviews were semi structured and took one to several hours. The transcripts ranged from 2,000 to 10,000 words. The early interviews (more than 80) were with women Rhodes Scholars who were elected to be Rhodes Scholars between 1977 and 1995, and hence were early-career (10 to 15 years) or mid-career (15 to 30 years) at the time they were interviewed. Since 2012, additional interviews have been conducted with women selected for the scholarship after 1995 as well as with additional women from the first cohorts. The Rhodes Project archive currently holds more than 120 transcribed interviews with women who have received the Rhodes Scholarships. Because respondents were promised confidentiality and women Rhodes Scholars are a small group (many of them are well-known or could be identified), the data has been completely anonymised. 

In September 2013, during the 110th Anniversary of the Rhodes Scholarship, a Focus Group on the gender gap in leadership was held at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. Seven women from the first cohort met for close to two hours and a transcript of their conversation has also been completed and deposited in the archive.