Week 73: Gates Annual Lecture 2018

The week began with a series of Gates related events. This week, Sarah Hendriks, the Director of Gender Equality at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was in Cambridge to deliver the Gates Cambridge Annual Lecture. Despite the same name, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Gates Cambridge Trust are two separate entities. Her first engagement would be on Monday, where she came to the Gates Scholars room for a Gates Conversation, which is a more informal discussion between Gates scholars and the guest. But first, I had the first session in the second week of teaching for the year, which was in the New Museums site in the centre of town. This session consisted of me running around a lecture hall with a couple of other tutors helping out the first years with their MATLAB problems.

After the session, I made my way out to the GSCR for the Gates Conversation with Sarah Hendriks. There were about two dozen scholars in attendance, with attendees varying from people who are researching gender in politics to people with a general interest in improving the lives of anybody and everybody. She came across as very articulate and very excitable about her topic. She talked to us in detail about some of the work that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had been doing in the field of gender over the last decade or so, and the story of an organisation going from not appreciating the impact of gender in global inequality and poverty to putting it as a rather central issue to the work that the Foundation was doing. There were questions asked all throughout and she handled them very well.

She was on stage again on Tuesday, though to a much larger audience in a more formal setting at St John’s College for the Annual Lecture. Here, she focused more on establishing the case for addressing gender as an issue in tackling global issues, rather than the internal processes of the Foundation, and then on what the vision was in the future. The talk was rather well received by most of the audience, who consisted of Gates Scholars from all across the spectrum.

On Wednesday evening, it was time for the Social By-Election Hustings. Jacqueline and I were serving as returning officers for the election, which meant we had to run the hustings. There were three candidates; Jennifer, Andrea and Chelsie. With the camera running, and a rather small audience, I invited each of them to come up and give a short statement on their candidacy, followed by questions from the audience. The whole thing was over relatively quickly, as we only had one position to fill. The hustings were immediately followed by the Valentine’s Day Social, which was hosted by the other social officer in the GSCR. There was food supplied and plenty of fun little things to do to provoke conversation. Of course, I enjoyed playing with the Lego; other people enjoyed playing with the clay.

The rest of the week was spent with the focus of a meeting with my supervisor on Friday. I was close to getting some plots made of my results, so I pushed on hard to try and get them ready for the meeting. In the end, they came in with positive results, which look to be an interesting development going forward. However, some of the results were strange, and I couldn’t really figure out what was going on. Nonetheless, it meant that my PhD up to this point hadn’t been a complete waste.


Unlike is often the case, the weekend was mostly uneventful. Jacqueline and I grabbed brunch from Churchill, and there was a bit of tennis to play, but otherwise I spent most of the time inside on my laptop planning and plotting some future adventures. Plus the Olympics were on, and they were very exciting to watch!

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