As primeiras mulheres assistentes e doutoradas na Secção de Ciências Matemáticas da Universidade de Coimbra (1961 a 1986)


  • João Luís da Costa Nunes Agrupamento de Escolas Lima-de-Faria, Cantanhede


Women firstly began to be part of the staff of the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Coimbra in the school year of 1961/1962 when the first two women were hired.

Why did they have to apply for the job instead of being invited to it as it was common practice? Why was the Faculty of Mathematics the last to hire women to their faculty staff (more than twenty years after the Faculty of Botany, Zoology and Chemistry, for example)? Did the first Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Mathematics of the University of Coimbra take place later than that of women researching in other fields?

Were there deterrents within the Faculty that prevented their hiring from being different to hiring men? Beyond the Faculty sphere, did family have any bearing?

In order to infer whether the Faculty of Mathematics was indeed un- receptive to having female staff members, we used information withdrawn from year books, interviews, personal files/files of professors, records of me- etings and records belonging to the administration of the University. Other bordering questions were whether such unreceptiveness derived from the be- lief that women were not as able and/or whether women put aside the idea of an academic career for personal or family reasons.

This article includes information on the path taken by most of these female assistant professors between 1961 and 1971, when the first woman was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Coimbra. Our interest in these women has covered information within and beyond the academic career.

As we look at female presence in the Faculty of Mathematics in the 1960s, we also intend to take a glimpse at what was happening in other faculties of the University of Coimbra as well as to the women holding PhDs in other fa- culties in the country. We will cover the academic path of the twelve women who were awarded a PhD (until 1986), we will cover the places they had to be (where they had to study) how old they were, which field of research they took an interest in and, once again, we will discuss/determine/try to deter- mine whether they found it hard(er) because of femaleness and motherhood.





História da Matemática