Fringe Box



Guildford Focus: Daphne Jackson – A Woman To Be Proud Of

Published on: 25 Sep, 2017
Updated on: 28 Sep, 2017

By Barbara Ford

This is the first of an occasional series of articles that will feature some of the special, positive and interesting aspects of our town and its residents.

Since moving to Guildford from London 40 years, I’ve been aware of Londoners’ dismissive attitude to our town – they think of it in the same way as they think of Belgium, a place with no culture, where no-one important lives and nothing important or interesting ever happens.

Well, I’ve had enough: I’m going to drop the “Guildford Cringe” and start celebrating the special things about the town and its people, and I invite you to join me.

Daphne Jackson – Photo Wikipedia

First up – Daphne Jackson. She was a distinguished physicist, who got her PhD in theoretical nuclear physics in 1962 at what was then Battersea College of Technology (which in 1966 became the University of Surrey and started its own move from London to Guildford).

In 1971, aged 34, she was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey – the first woman professor of physics in the UK. Pretty impressive, eh? But there’s more.

In 1977 she became Dean of the Faculty of Science, in 1987 she was awarded an OBE. She was a member of several professional and learned societies and public bodies, including the Meteorological Office, and became vice-president of the Institute of Physics, after being its youngest ever fellow.

While achieving all these firsts, Jackson was mindful of the problems of other talented women who were lost in lowly jobs because they could not go back to their scientific careers after a career break. She is reported as saying, “Imagine a society that would allow Marie Curie to stack shelves in a supermarket simply because she took a career break for family reasons.”

Daphne Jackson’s home in St Omer Road

So in 1985 she developed and piloted the Women’s Returners’ Scheme, providing flexible part-time paid fellowships, with appropriate training, for women qualified in science, engineering and technology who wished to return to their profession after a career break.

Sadly she died, in Guildford, prematurely aged only 55 – of cancer, ironic given that she had been working with the Institute for Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital. She had published many articles on the use of nuclear physics in medicine.

At her death, she left money to establish a trust to continue with the women’s returners work. Over the years the Daphne Jackson Trust, based in Guildford, has granted more than 200 of these fellowships, having in 2003 widened its remit to include men.

The significance of Jackson’s achievements and legacy extends way beyond her own university and our own town. It is true she is commemorated to a certain degree in Guildford: there is a blue plaque in St Omer Road where she lived, there is a Daphne Jackson Road on the university estate, and to its credit, Guildford High School has a Daphne Jackson laboratory – but how many of us remember what she achieved and how important it was?

So let’s put that right, and shout about Daphne Jackson whenever we have the chance!

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *