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lesson 5

fourth wave

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To remember some key points from the last lesson

To understand the main ideas behind fourth wave feminism

To learn about the Everyday Sexism project

To study the most influential Cambridge women in the fourth wave

To revise all the Cambridge women you have learnt about in the four waves through a variety of activities


To complete two quick questionnaires on these lessons 




activity 1

Before we begin learning about fourth wave feminism, and how Cambridge women contributed to it, have a go at writing some bullet points on what you remember from last time about:  


Third Wave Feminism - What were the main aims?


Names of any Third Wave Feminists - What did they achieve? 

Any interesting facts that stood out for you?  


This should take 5 minutes.

fourth Wave Feminism 2010- right now!

Fourth wave feminism is a new wave that has coincided with the fast developments of technology in the last 20 years. It uses the internet and social media to fight sexism in new ways. Fourth wave feminism has been more inclusive of younger generations to help widen the conversation in the public. Feminist issues are increasingly being taught more in education and young people can be involved in it through social media platforms.
One defining feature of the fourth wave is the idea of the 'call out' culture. You may already be aware of the #metoo movement which was started by civil rights activist Tarana Burke. The movement exploded globally with celebrity women 'calling out' men that had treated them in an inappropriate and sexist way. The bravery of these celebrities and all the other people who joined in has created a viral movement for women to realise that they are not alone. Sadly though, the internet has also created new ways for sexist behaviour to emerge, so fourth wave feminists need to fight this too.
Another defining feature is that the responsibility of the campaigning and the conversations haven't just fallen to the more privileged academics; now anyone from any status has the opportunity to speak out and be heard on the internet. Like you!
Watch this 16 minute video of fourth wave feminist (and Cambridge shero) Laura Bates talking about how everyday sexism still exists and her amazing online project which revealed this. Disclaimer: Laura makes reference to swear words and instances of sexual harassment. If you are comfortable to watch the video, please answer the five questions below in full sentences in your exercise book: 

activity 2


1. What first made Laura realise that women were by no means equal to men?

2. Can you give three statistics that show women are not equal to men in the workplace?

3. What is the Everyday Sexism Project?

4. What kind of responses did Laura get for creating this website? (Positive and negative)

5. How has the website helped women around the world?

impact of the cambridge fourth wave feminists

Fourth wave Cambridge feminists are having a large impact nationally and globally on furthering the voice of gender equality. Mary Beard writes about the history of women and power while combating troll culture online. Laura Bates - as we've just seen - produces powerful feminist output online, in books, journalism and in talks. Lucy Delap has produced historical work and a great exhibition on the history of women in Cambridge. Finally Lola Olufemi takes young feminism forward into the future with her writing and campaigning. Who will be the next generation of Cambridge feminists?

Could they include you?

Mary Beard, DBE, FSA, FBA


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  • Mary studied classics at Newnham College, Cambridge and became a Professor in 1984 where she was the only female lecturer in the Classics Department. She is now a fellow of the college.

  • She has been described by the Guardian as "Britain's best-known classicist".

  • Mary has made many historical documentaries with the BBC, which you may have even watched clips from when studying Pompeii (Pompeii: Life and Death in a Roman Town).

  • Even though most of her career could have been included as part of third wave Feminism, she has become most recognised during the fourth wave, due to her strong reaction to online abuse.

  • Critic A A Gill reviewed her programmes with a huge focus on her appearance and concluded that she was, "too ugly for television". Her response was very powerful: She mentioned, "the blokeish culture that loves to decry clever women". By this, she meant that she was irritated by how men seek to degrade and put down clever women. By standing up for herself she has since faced online abuse.

  • By having to defend herself, she brought in a new public debate about older women's presence in the media and how this can bring a positive diversity of alternative ways of 'being a woman'.

  • Despite this, she is constantly being criticised and asked about her 'self-presentation' rather than about her actual work such as 'Women & Power', 2017.

  • She delivers lectures on the public voice of women, which has now become a huge passion for the activism in her career.

Dr Lucy Delap


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  • Lucy studied Philosophy, Politics and Sociology in the 1990s at the University of Cambridge and became a Fellow of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge in 2015.

  • She teaches and writes on the history of feminism, working women's lives, disability and the history of sexualities.

  • You might recognise her from the 'The Rising Tide' video from our first lesson. This video was about women's herstory at the University of Cambridge.

  • The Rising Tide has become a huge project, putting her into the fourth wave, as she uses the media and exhibitions to educate both Cambridge locals and wider society about women's struggles at the University of Cambridge.

  • Along with Dr Ben Griffin, also featured in the clip, they have curated the lives and experiences of women at the University.

  • They have displayed this in two powerful exhibitions which highlighted the opposition and oppression women faced from the institution as well as the hostility they faced when trying to gain equal rights to their male peers. 

  • Lucy's latest book, 'Feminisms: A Global History' looks at differences in feminism across different countries. 

Laura Bates, BEM, FRSL


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  • Laura studied at St John's College, Cambridge and remembers having a male professor who still wore a black armband once a year to mourn female students being allowed to study there!

  • She is a feminist writer and has written many groundbreaking books about sexism, one of the most fascinating: Everyday Sexism (2014) followed her Everyday Sexism Project (2012).

  • As you saw in the video, this project aimed to collect 100 entries from women telling their own experiences of sexism on a day-to-day basis. These could include both serious and minor happenings. This is a site for women to share their stories and show the world that sexism DOES EXIST and is faced by women every day, making it a valid discussion! The aim was also to help women realise that they are not alone and that others are experiencing similar things to them.

  • From the initial goal of 100 entries, there are now over 80,000. 

  • Another of her books that has also changed perceptions on sexism is: 'Girl Up' (2016) .

  • Bates' book tells us that it is girls who should be admired for their perseverance and strength and so the phrase 'man up' should be changed to 'girl up'.

  • She also argues that the phrase 'man up' is damaging for boys and men as, over time, they internalise the idea that they aren't allowed to express emotions as that's 'not how a real man behaves'. It also teaches them that being emotional is a young or female trait that should be grown out of. The book works as a handbook to help teenagers deal with some of the problems they will face as a result of sexism that is around today. 

  • In May 2020, Laura was made an Honorary Fellow of St John's College - the most prestigious award the college can bestow - in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the feminist movement.  

Lola Olufemi


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  • Lola Olufemi was an English Literature student and the Women’s Officer at Cambridge University student union. 

  • She is a feminist writer and runs workshops on feminism and histories of political organising in schools and universities.

  • Her first book (which was co-written with three other female graduates of Cambridge University) was: 'A FLY Girl’s Guide to University: Being a Woman of Colour at Cambridge and other Institutions of Power and Elitism' (2019). It calls out the issues faced during their experiences at Cambridge.

  • Her second book: 'Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power' (March 2020) explores many areas of injustice and tries to highlight that the fight for gendered liberation can change the world for everybody, when we refuse to think of it solely as women’s work.

  • That is why it is so essential that everybody is a part of this movement, not just women.

  • She became a ‘controversial figure’ due to her open letter titled: ‘Decolonising the English Faculty’ to the academics at Cambridge University. She asked them to do this by including more diverse writers as the department’s reading list was dominated by white, male authors.

  • The Daily Telegraph ran a story with a picture of Olufemi on its front page, along with the headline: “Student forced Cambridge to drop white authors”.

  • This was not the aim of Olufemi’s letter so was purposefully misleading.

  • Later the Daily Telegraph corrected this, however it was too late as by then Lola was ‘flooded’ with targeted forms of harassment (including both racist and sexist abuse).

  • The experience Lola had from the media and the harassment she got online shows that feminists still have a vital role in the world today to overcome patriarchal attitudes and beliefs.   

activity 3

In your books, write the names of all 19 Cambridge feminists that we have covered down the left hand side of a page. Make sure these are in the correct order of waves.


Next to their names, summarise their main achievement in one sentence, fitting this onto one line. 


Then, pick a colour for each wave of feminism and shade these over the correct sections of writing.


Finally, write a key for the different colours and waves at the bottom of the page.

activity 4

Now for some consolidation!


Have a go at this Kahoot Quiz  which will ask you multiple choice questions about:

  • What the waves are

  • Which Cambridge women were involved

  • What they did


There are 20 questions and it shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes -- if you have been paying attention in Activity 3!

Good Luck!


Well done on completing your studies of Cambridge Herstory. We hope that you now understand the concept of patriarchy and how it has continued to change over time. We hope you now understand that patriarchy means that feminism has to exist. We hope that you now understand how important the protofeminist Mary Wollstonecraft was to the start of this journey. We hope that you now understand the 4 waves of feminism and the amazing herstory of Cambridge women.


We hope that this understanding has led you to reflect on how totally important the herstory of feminism has been for everybody alive today. 

But most of all, we hope that you are now a feminist. Not just someone that believes feminism is right, but someone that will go out there and make a difference - however big or small that difference may be.

Before you leave, you just need to fill in the final questionnaires below :-) 

activity 5

To end the lessons, please take 5 minutes to answer both surveys below. This should take no longer than 5 minutes in total:

cambridge herstory COLOUR CHANGE high re
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