Vice-Chancellor Karen O’Brien and Chancellor Dr Fiona Hill included in ‘100 most influential women’ in the North East


In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, The Chronicle has compiled a list of the top 100 women who inspire inclusion and have taken leading roles in the North East. This list includes Durham University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Karen O’Brien, and the Chancellor, Dr Fiona Hill.

They are joined by City of Durham MP Mary Foy, UK Shadow Education Secretary Bidget Phillipson, Greggs CEO Roisin Currie, and comedian Sarah Millican.

An analysis by Times Higher Education reveals that 50 of the top 200 global universities are led by women. There has been an 82% increase over nine years.

“Universities have a key role to play as agents of change, both as employers of women and in inspiring and empowering the next generation”

Vice Chancellor Karen o’Brien

Professor Karen O’Brien stated on Durham’s website: “I’m honoured to feature on the Chronicle’s top 100 list alongside many great women who are championing the North East and inspiring women everywhere.

“Durham has a proud history of supporting strong women who challenge the status quo, and we support people of all backgrounds with the potential to succeed to come to Durham and flourish.

“While structural barriers and challenges do exist in achieving gender equity, universities have a key role to play as agents of change, both as employers of women and in inspiring and empowering the next generation, including in the cities and regions in which we are based.”

Dr Fiona Hill was appointed as the 13th Chancellor of Durham University last year. She grew up in Bishop Auckland, where her father was a coal miner. Dr Hill has enjoyed an impressive career as a British-American foreign affairs specialist and a presidential advisor.

Durham University is celebrating International Women’s Day with a range of events, including several orchestral performances. One performance showcases Grace Williams, a famous female composer, and delves into Welsh history. Additionally, there is an adaption of William Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’ at the Sir Thomas Allen Assembly Rooms Theatre, exploring the objectification of women and how women can access power in a patriarchal society.

Image via Durham University

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