Female students

Lesedauer: 2 min

Studying remained a man’s world until the early-20th century. Even in Saxony, the many longstanding universities, colleges and art academies were long loath to admit women. One early exception was Leipzig Conservatory of Music, which accepted talented female musicians immediately after it had been founded by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in 1843. The issue of women in higher education became the subject of intellectual debate in the German Empire around the turn of the century. Some detractors actually claimed that women lacked the ability to study. After protracted negotiations and the occasional admission of female guest students, on 10 April 1906 a law was passed in Saxony allowing women to enter higher education. That same month, the first 27 female students enrolled at the University of Leipzig, and in 1907 women first entered Dresden College of Technology. Even so, women still remained few and far between in lecture halls for many years to come. Mittweida College of Technology rejected a female applicant in 1908, and not until 1944 did the first woman manage to enrol there. Formal equality did not by any means equate to real equal opportunities in everyday higher education. At universities and colleges in Saxony, too, equality had to be repeatedly demanded in the twentieth century. Initially only enrolled in small numbers, women were then forced out of academia under the Nazis. During the era of East Germany (the German Democratic Republic), women were supported for political and ideological reasons. The numerous successful biographies of female students tell a different story of their experiences of the Saxon higher education sector, which less than 120 years ago was almost completely male-dominated.

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