A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Her Story: Leiden’s Leading Ladies Exhibition

A meaningful exhibition about women at Leiden University, as a part of the events organized for its 444th year, is open for visitors at Oude UB (Rapenburg 70), the building which hosts the offices of high-ranking university officers, including the Rector Magnificus.

Prepared by 25 female students, the exhibition takes you through the journey of women at Leiden University, starting from first female students who were not allowed to join the lectures by a male professor of gynaecology (I mean how ironic it is?), to first female PhD candidate and first female professor later with official records, letters, photographs and personal belongings of these women. I am deliberately avoiding telling much of the content so that I won’t spoil it for you, and you will still be able to see it through your own perception.





However, there is one thing I can share with you; it gave me a unique perspective on how easily I see certain things granted while not long ago (disturbingly recent) they were not even thinkable. It made me, as a woman who aspires to have an academic career, thank how society changed ever since. Despite, the exhibition also gives statistics on the current situation of women representation, showing we still have a long way to go, as we only have one woman professor for every five men in universities.



Ms. Sabiha Gökçen

In the end, you may share your thoughts on the exhibition, for which I can only imagine how many hours were spent in archives and libraries and share your ‘leading lady’ and her story. I put up the name of Sabiha Gökçen, who was the first female fighter pilot of Turkey and world and had her first military flight in 1937. The first airport in Istanbul is named after her.



Finally, you can find this valuable list of feminist books on the tables in the hall. No need to mention how beautiful the building is from inside too.

The exhibition is open till the 23rd of May. Your schedule is full of lectures all day? No worries, it opens its doors as early as 07.30, so you can just stop by on the way to your morning lecture or library session.



Who is your leading lady? What are your thoughts on the exhibition? Share in the comments!

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