The first habilitations of women at the University of Vienna


Elise Richter was the first woman to receive her habilitation at the University of Vienna in 1905. With the habilitation as the highest academic qualification as an university lecturer, she completed a complex process. It was only two years later, in 1907, that she finally received the license to teach Romance philology, despite concerns and resistance from male experts.

Over the next 50 years, many female academics followed in Elise Richterʼs footsteps. All of the first six women who cpmpleted their habilitation were humanities scholars, all of whom habilitated at the Philosophical Faculty  (“Philosophische Fakultät”). In the following decades, an average of one woman per year was habilitated, with female physicians and natural scientists being added from the 1930s and female lawyers from the end of the 1940s. The first women had to struggle with similar prejudices in virtually all departments and often had to wait for long discussions before being approved as a private lecturer, at the Faculty of Catholic Theology even until 1997.

The first female “private lecturers” (“Privatdozentinnen”) at the University of Vienna

1905/07 Elise Richter, Romance Studies

1921 Christine Touaillon, German Studies

1923 Charlotte Bühler, Psychology (habilitation 1920 TH Dresden)

1924 Marianne Thalmann, German studies

1925 Erna Patzelt, History

1927 Lily Weiser, German studies

1930 Helene Wastl, Medicine (1st habilitated physician)

1930 Carmen Coronini-Kronberg, Medicine

1931 Anna Simona Spiegel-Adolf, Medical Chemistry

1932 Gertrud Herzog-Hauser, Classical Philology

1933 Franziska Seidl, Experimental Physics

1934 Carla Zawisch-Ossenitz, Medicine

1935 Elise Hofmann, Paleobotany

1937 Berta Karlik, Physics (1st full professor in 1956)

1940 Marie Höfner, Semitic Philology and Ancient History

1940 Hertha Wambacher, Physics

1942 Hedwig Kenner, Archaeology

1943 Sylvia (Bayr-)Klimpfinger, Psychology

1945 Gertrude Thausing, Egyptology and African Studies

1945 Gertraud Repp, Plant Physiology

1946 Lotte Reuter, Plant Physiology

1947 Sibylle Bolla-Kotek, Law (1st habilitated lawyer at the University of Vienna, habilitation 1938 University of Prague)

1948 Charlotte Leitmaier, Canon Law

1948 Margarete Weninger, Anthropology

1948 Elisabeth Tschermak-Woess, Botany

1949 Irmtraud Obiditsch-Mayer, Medicine (Pathology, Anatomy)

1950 Hermine Leinfellner-Baum, Systematic Botany

1951 Gertrude Eberl-Rothe, Zoology

1952 Anneliese Strenger, Zoology

1952 Alexandra Piringer-Kuchinka, Pathological Anatomy

1952 Margarete Mecenseffy, Church History (1st habilitated Protestant theologian)

1953 Margret Dietrich, Theater Studies

1953 Gertrud Pleskot, Zoology

1955 Blanka Horacek, German Studies

1956 Maria Luhan, Biology

1956 Annemarie Ziegler, Biology

1957 Agnes Ruttner, Biology

1997 Martha Zechmeister, Fundamental Theology (1st habilitated Catholic theologian)