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Som isolerade öar: De lagerkransade kvinnorna och akademin under 1900-talets första hälft
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies.
2003 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is, from a gender perspective, to illuminate and analyze the position of female post-graduates, within and in relation to the male dominated state universities and private university colleges in Sweden during 1883-1949. Hence, this is the telling of the story of a minority within a majority, with an emphasis on the analysis of different perceptions of this elite. Academia – the state universities in Uppsala and Lund, and the private university colleges in Stockholm and Göteborg – is studied with respect to both its ”frozen ideology”, i.e. inability to change, and manifestation of ideas about differences between maleness and femaleness.

The academic qualifications of female doctors were not sufficient to permit them to apply for uprank state positions as e.g. professors, librarians or judges. The Swedish Constitution of 1809 stated that only ”Native Swedish Men” could be appointed. The boundaries of the dissertation are made up by the discussions regarding a revised legislation, which could not be changed unconditionally. A new law was passed in 1925 and revised in 1949. Attitudes toward academic females did not change over time – women were to be seen more as exceptions than equals during the time period investigated.

In the period 1883-1949, 104 women completed their doctoral degrees. During this time, women never made up more than five percent of the total number of post-graduates, and only a few found their way into a continued career in Academia. In short, the changes in the Constitution had very little – if any – effect on the total number of female doctors.

The female doctor’s claims on the academic labor market was a threat against current power relations, and the guarding of power was thus expressed in the opinions about gender. The partial inclusion of women in the academic system and the origin of the legislative changes were possible because it was expected that they would be only a few. These “exceptional” women were allowed some space – albeit limited – at Academia. However, they became de-gendered and marginalized. The female post-graduate was, from both a normative as well as an institutitonal perspective, transformed into a non-woman. The crime against the “female nature” produced a theory and a practice of the academic woman, which embodied the stigma of an “unnatural femaleness”. Their deviance should thus be seen as the most important formative aspect of their identity.

The choice of Academia was a supreme choice to these women. They succeeded in completing their doctoral degrees, and – not the least, due to their social background in upper class families – had high ambitions and expectations of their work life and career. Their position within and in relation to Academia was therefore not only a result of their adjustment to the system, but also – I strongly suggest – due to the fact that the system could only accept those who had already adapted to it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. , 339 p.
Keyword [en]
History, Swedish Modern History, University History, Gender History, Academic Women, Female Post-Graduates, Academic Labor Market, Gender and Academia, “Frozen Ideology” [frusen ideologi], Identity
Keyword [sv]
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-166ISBN: 91-7139-625-XOAI: diva2:141736
Public defence
2003-12-19, Umeå, 10:15
Available from: 2003-12-01 Created: 2003-12-01Bibliographically approved

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