Akateemisen vallan variaatioita: Naiset saksalaisessa yliopistojärjestelmässä ennen ensimmäistä maailmansotaa

Variations of Academic Power: Women in the German academic system before the First World War

The paper deals with a major rupture in the history of the European university – women's entry to the academic world – by focusing on the medical faculties of the three German-language universities of Berlin, Vienna and Zurich between, roughly, 1860 and 1814. The "institutional acculturation" (Lenoir 1997, 3) of women in the academic world has been studied mostly from political, judicial and administrative – or else biographic – point of view. Instead, the present paper concentrates on easily overlooked micromechanisms of power. After shortly reviewing the foremost macrolevel developments in the three cities it turns to three forms of exclusion, namely spatial, social and discursive exclusion experienced by the pioneering generations of female medical students and doctors. The paper shows how simple spatial exclusion could and was used to hamper women's studies even after they had officially been granted full rights of studying, how the German student and professional cultures contained features which made it extremely difficult if not impossible for women to fit in, and how medical and scientific discourse provided arguments designed to show that, by the force of nature, women do not and will never be able to be scientifically productive. Since the German university system was firmly research-oriented, this amounted to saying that women can never legitimately possess and practice academic power. This turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy at least in some parts of the German-speaking academic world, since the first german female professor – an assistant professor in anatomy – was nominated only in 1924.

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