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Women's studies at the University of Würzburg

Today the Alma Mater is female - a long way

The Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg is currently the second home for 28,375 students, 16,278 of whom are female, giving the university a female quota of over 50% - albeit only among students. But even this figure has only developed over the last few decades; not so long ago, female faces in lecture halls and laboratories were by all means a rarity.

Today, the alma mater is female, not only literally, but in the 19th century the picture was completely different. Women were almost completely denied access to higher education; the highest professional qualification was the teacher's examination. However, young women increasingly pushed their way into the venerable educational institutions; the first application for a place at university was made by the American Laura Reusch-Formes in 1869 - she wanted to study medicine in Würzburg and earn a doctorate. Her application was rejected by a majority, although she had previously studied in Vienna. 25 years later, Dr. Marie Derscheidt, a physician licensed in Brussels, dared to attend lectures and observe operations at the University of Würzburg, which was strongly condemned by the Ministry of Culture. It took another five years before the first female student was admitted to Würzburg. Jenny Danziger was not allowed to matriculate, but as an auditor she was allowed to study medicine. She was thus the first official student at JMU, as she was able to present the required school-leaving certificate, the Abitur.

Encouraged, more and more female teachers demanded equality with their male colleagues, to be able to listen to lectures even without proof of the Reifeprüfung. In 1899, the university dealt with the application of twelve female teachers who demanded admission to lecture courses. Based on the affirmative opinion, the Senate voted nine to three in favor of admission. The Ministry of Culture also saw fit to allow the female teachers, who had passed the employment examination, to attend the public lectures of the Faculty of Philosophy. In the fall of 1901, it was uniformly regulated for all three Bavarian universities that women could be admitted as auditors, but enrollment as regular students was not possible. It was not until September 21, 1903, that women were admitted to study on an equal basis by Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria. It is noteworthy that in Würzburg only the Faculty of Theology voted against women's studies, whereas in Erlangen half the faculties voted against and in Munich only a minority voted for admission.

In 1902, Beatrice Edgell, a British woman, became the first woman to receive a doctorate in psychology in Würzburg, although she only had lecture status.

After an initially sluggish increase in the number of female students, the number of female students grew considerably during the First World War, which earned them the accusation that they were profiteers of the war, since they studied undisturbed while the men risked their lives at the front.

The anti-educational ideology of National Socialism led to a sharp decline in the number of students, including female students. The law against overcrowding in German schools and universities limited the number of female students to 10% of a cohort. After proving impracticable, the law was abolished, but the proportion of female students still did not increase, as from 1936 more women were needed in industry.

The emancipatory currents that emerged after the war brought the university a steady increase in female students, and in the mid-1990s, for the first time, more female students were enrolled than male students. To this day, the numbers of doctorates and habilitations awarded to women are on the rise, although they are still severely underrepresented.

In Würzburg, only Dr. Maria Schorn habilitated before 1945, earning her teaching license in psychology in 1929. However, she was denied a professorship in Würzburg, so in 1937 she accepted a call from the College for Teacher Education in Schneidemühl (Czech Republic).

Annelise Kuchinke was more fortunate. After completing her studies in German, philosophy, history and geography, she completed her doctorate at the University of Jena by 1945 and habilitated there in 1950. However, the Thuringian Ministry for National Education denied her a lectureship, citing her "unacceptable political and ideological stance" - referring to her membership in the CDU. After her escape to West Berlin and rehabilitation in 1958, she was appointed as an associate professor of German philology. On September 1, 1959, Annelise Kuchinke was appointed the first full professor at the University of Würzburg.


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