First woman to obtain a Baccalauréat (French Senior High School diploma): Julie Daubié (1824-1874). She obtained her Baccalauréat in 1861. She was also the first woman in France to earn a B.A. in Literature, in 1871, at a time La Sorbonne was not open to women.
Catherine Brewer was the first American woman to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Macon, Georgia, 1849.
Until 1920, women were not allowed to matriculate at Oxford. 1920! A mere century ago. In October that year the statute of the University of Oxford changed. On the first ceremony when women could graduate, forty did so. Annie Rogers had been the first woman to receive honours in Latin and Greek – for women – in 1877 but she only matriculated and graduated in 1920.
Elizabeth Garret Anderson, though British, is the first woman to receive an M.D. degree at the French Faculté de Médecine in 1870. And the first English Doctor. Madeleine Brès (1842-1924) is the first French female Doctor in 1875. She was barred at the Intern admission which was only opened to women in 1882. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) is the first American woman Doctor (1849). Yet, in the early 20th century, medicine was not considered a fit profession for woman. My grandmother’s sister, Jeanne Onraët, wanted to be a Doctor. “No! No! Medicine is not for women!” She died a military nurse during WWI.
Hélène Boucher (1908-1934) is one the very first woman pilots, earning her license in 1931, at 23, when planes were contraptions of wood, cloth, metal and wires. In her time, she won several records. She died at 26 in a plane crash. Of course, everyone remembers Amelia Earhart (1897-1937). Just a note: I wish I could mention all pioneers, but space is limited. 🙂
Marie Curie (1867-1934), a French chemist of Polish origin is the first woman to receive the Nobel prize in 1903, and the only one to have received two Nobel prizes.
Voting rights for women. New Zealand, 1893. Hurray! Canada, 1917. Britain and Germany, 1918. USA, 1920. I am sorry to report that French women voted for the first time only after WWII, in 1945. My grandmother was born in 1882. She was 63 when she first voted in a general election.
When I entered “classes préparatoires” (a typical French 2-3 year stint between High School and College, a bit like Pre-Law, or Pre-Med) in 1970, some business schools (HEC) and the top Engineering school, Polytechnique, were closed to women. 1970! Anne Chopinet, born in 1953, was one of the first seven women to pass the entrance exam to Polytechnique in 1972. And she won the first place. Today there are still only 61 women studying at Polytechnique for 339 men. In French business schools however, when in my days the percentage of women hovered around 15-20%, women now account for approximately 60% of enrolment.
According to the Pew Research Center, 36% of Millenial women in the US have at least a BA or BS. Compared to 29% of Millenial men. Millenials are defined as born between 1981 and 1996.
Abortion is legal in France since 1975. A law defended and passed by then Minister of Health Simone Veil (1927-2017). The amount of grief , even insults, she had to take in the Assemblée Nationale is still – to me – unbelievable. In the US, Roe vs. Wade decriminalized abortion nation-wide in 1973. Yet, abortion is still under attack in France (Senate on extended delays) and the US, to name a few. In 125 countries, abortion is highly restricted, from totally illegal to strictly limited to exceptional cases. In some cases, a miscarriage is considered a criminal offence.
(Only) 33 women belong to Fortune 500 CEO’s. 33! Though the figure is the highest ever, I contend that parity is slowing down. Not just in the US. At 70%, the female employment rate in Germany is below male employment rate (78%). And 37% of German women employed work part-time. KKK (Kinder, Küche, Kirche: Kids, Kitchen, Church) is still a reality in Germany. Don’t know why, I think I’m gonna get some “Flak”! Those are just a few examples, folks. Don’t shoot the messenger. 🙂
“What’s your point”?
Two-fold: a) The place of women in many societies has undergone tremendous changes in little over a century, with an acceleration since the 60’s-70’s, up to recent times. Women in many parts of the world can now live their life pretty much as they choose. No small feat. b) However, in many parts of the world, in countless societies, rural, urban, religious, what have you, the opportunities for women are either blocked, or worse, some try to reverse the progress that has been achieved.
In a nutshell, much has been done. Much still needs to be done. 🙂
Now, why the bl..dy drawings? Because of a post by Randall Collis called “Women of the American West pursuing excellence”. See this great post here:
I’d set myself a drawing challenge: to draw horses. Horses. Not women. 🙂 Nothing is more difficult to draw than a horse. Human anatomy is a piece of cake compared to horses. The movement, the bodies, everything is difficult about drawing horses. And I remembered the post. Saved a few pictures – for inspiration – of those incredible women pushing their rides to the limit. What struck me beyond their obvious focus and Devil-may-dare attitude, was that they were having fun! Great fun! While I was struggling with the drawing, the story came easily: “Women of excellence.” Forget horses. Focus on key women and dates. The rest is just quick research. Those women Randall Collis just photographed, and the two I drew, could probably not have done it fifty years ago.
Keep riding Ladies. 🙂