Margaret Thatcher Pursued a Degree in Chemistry

Previously published in Examiner

Part 2 of the Margaret Thatcher series

This series will now look at the only female prime minister of England and the only female prime minister of Canada. The series will end with three male governors of Quebec, so important to Montreal men and women’s history and the three female governor generals of Canada. Two of the three females came from Montreal.

To learn more about Canadian Prime Ministers and other Canadian or Quebec politics, both McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal offer wonderful political science degrees, that you may want to look into.

For further reading, Montreal’s Concordia University has a wonderful women’s studies program at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute

Margaret Thatcher: Secondary and higher education

During her last two years of high school known as upper sixth (an optional program for students between 16 and 18 who completed the regular high school requirements), Margaret applied for a scholarship in chemistry at Somerville, College, Oxford. The scholarship was rejected, but then she got it when another recipient had withdrawn. Margaret completed her four years Bachelors of Science degree in 1947, with Second Class Honours.

She specialized in crystallography and studied under Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin.

While attending Oxford, Margaret became the President of the Oxford University Conservative Association and was influenced by Friedrich von Hayek’s book, The Road to Serfdom (1944); a book which warned that government economic intervention would lead to an authoritarian state.

After graduating Margaret moved to Colchester in Essex and worked as a chemist for BX Plastics. She became a member of the local Conservative Association. She was the University Graduate Conservative Association representative. The Conservative Party was so impressed with her, they invited her to apply as the political conservative party candidate before she was actually a member. She became the Conservative Party Candidate for Dartford in 1946. It was at this period in her life that she met Dennis Thatcher, a wealthy divorced businessman.

Margaret then moved to Dartford as she was entering the political arena and preparing for the upcoming elections. During the interim she worked as a research chemist at J. Lyons and Company, in Hammersmith, a burrough of London. She work with a team that was developing emulsifiers for ice cream.