Saxony’s universities and colleges are among the oldest in Germany. Yet without female involvement, their ongoing history would be inconceivable – and not just today and tomorrow, but also yesterday. For nearly 150 years, women in search of education have sought access to the four universities and numerous colleges in Saxony, including in times when they were barred from higher education. However, the official introduction of equal rights for women did not bring about genuine equality in university life for many long years. Women still had to struggle for a place in higher education, research and teaching in the face of serious reservations, prejudice and resistance. The exhibition #herstory pays tribute to outstanding female academics and researchers from the higher education sector in Saxony past and present, making them ambassadors of women’s demand for education in this region and beyond. The lives and careers of the women portrayed here are academic success stories rooted in Saxony. #herstory tells of females’ thirst for knowledge, determination and courage. Learn about the mathematician who risked her life exploring the desert of Peru, the doctor who was the first woman in Germany to be allowed to sit the state examination in medicine, the virtuoso ballerina who reinvented the zeitgeist with her style of dance, and the woman with a doctorate in engineering who made it to the boardroom of Volkswagen. Many of the stories recounted here concern women who were quite simply among the very first female undergraduates, postgraduates, lecturers, professors and even rectors at universities and colleges. Their biographies are as colourful and flamboyant as Saxony’s higher education sector. And they indicate that women don’t tend to study particular subjects. These pioneers, inventors and creators have contributed to Saxony’s educational progress across the board, whether in mathematics, chemistry and physics, economics and politics, or dance, painting and music. Their stories are a source of inspiration and courage for the future.
The exhibition project
The exhibition ‘#herstory – Saxony and its female academics’ is a joint project by the Equal Opportunities Office of Leipzig University and Leipzig University Archive in conjunction with other Saxon higher education archives, colleges and universities as well as the Coordinating Office for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities at Higher Education Institutions in Saxony. This exhibition would not have been possible without the kind support of the Saxon Ministry of Social Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Minister of Equality and Integration. The establishments of higher education participating in #herstory are Leipzig University, Dresden University of Technology, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, Mittweida University of Applied Sciences, Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Felix Mendelsohn Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig, and the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management.