The Rhodes Project has gone live

Dr. Ann Olivarius's letter to the Rhodes community

Dear Rhodes Scholars, friends, and colleagues,

 I thought you might like to know that the Web site of The Rhodes Project has gone “live” with a new collection of articles and other contributions.  Although we still have many more things we wish to accomplish, we are glad to be able to share these materials more widely.

The Rhodes Project has had a long genesis.  It grew out of conversations I shared periodically with fellow women Rhodes Scholars over many years.  When we got together, the conversation almost always got around to analyzing the opportunities we have enjoyed, and what it has meant to be among the first generation of women with a chance to “have it all.”  For many of us, having it all has meant trying to do it all – combining a demanding career with raising a family and running a household.  We all agreed that this was harder to accomplish than to attempt. At the same time, I also detected during these conversations some frustration that the achievements of female Rhodes Scholars seemed to be underplayed, which was a paradox: wasn’t more being expected of us than our male peers who usually had fewer balls to juggle?  Were our accomplishments being properly understood, by ourselves as well as by others?

As I spoke with more women Scholars, I thought there would be real value in collecting the widest possible range of their stories, and examining them for the light they could shed on common themes of women’s experience and progress.  An additional incentive to proceed came from people outside the Rhodes community.  When I discussed the idea of this study, they often expressed the view that the group could serve as an indicator of the progress made by women more generally in education and the workplace.  Thus I hope our research will prove to offer a cultural benchmark, valuable for a wider audience.

A summary of the Project’s research tools and selected writings can now be found on our Web site  It hosts articles on topics ranging from the history and politicking behind women’s admission to the Rhodes Scholarship, to Rhodes women’s attitudes toward leadership, to profiles of some of the more vocal Scholars of the last few decades.  A comprehensive report on our survey and findings will be published online and in print in Winter 2010. Other projects – including two books – are on the horizon.  There is also a link on the site inviting you to contribute your own thoughts and experiences. 

We hope that launching this site will serve not simply to introduce the first results of several years’ research, but also to begin a dialogue among a circle of women and men– Rhodes and beyond – who are creative, engaged, and thoughtful, each trying in their own way to “fight the world’s fight” – not perhaps in exactly the way Cecil Rhodes envisaged, but nevertheless enriching their worlds as leaders, visionaries and challengers.

 Thank you for sharing your lives with us -- it has been both illuminating and a pleasure.   And please stay in touch.


Dr. Ann Olivarius