Edinburgh Seven's extraordinary achievements as first women students in UK are more than worthy of a song – Scotsman column

The Edinburgh Seven was an extraordinary group of women who stood up to overt, official and legally sanctioned sexism and, in doing so, helped transform attitudes in this country.

Sophia Jex-Blake was the leading member of the Edinburgh Seven, who became the first women to matriculate at a UK university in 1869

In 1869, after a prolonged campaign, they became the first women to be matriculated at a university in the UK.

And while the Seven, led by Sophia Jex-Blake, faced hostility, bureaucracy and legal challenges that ultimately prevented them from graduating, they galvanised public opinion in their favour.

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They won support from people like Charles Darwin and the then Scotsman editor Alexander Russel, who married another of the seven, Helen Evans, and ultimately helped open up university education to women.

It is a story that cries out to be told so the decision by the Royal Lyceum Theatre to put on a musical about their lives called ‘Seven Against Edinburgh’ is most welcome.

The show – a story with “female tenacity and friendship at its heart” – will also draw comparisons between Victorian and modern-day Edinburgh.

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And well it should, for although such blatant sexism is no longer considered socially acceptable, there still remain shocking inequalities in areas such as pay and representation in senior roles in the public and private sector.

Female politicians have also been subjected to abhorrent misogynistic abuse and threats of physical and sexual violence, a problem which poses a threat to democracy that must be taken seriously.

So while the Edinburgh Seven did much to change this country for the better, we are still far from the day when we can say that sexism no longer blights the lives of far too many of its citizens.

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