Elena Lucrezia Cornaro

The first woman graduate

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(Venice5th june 1646 – Padua, 26th jult 1684)

She wanted to take a degree in theology, but – it was the seventeenth century, after all – she had to settle for Philosophy. Nevertheless, she set a record, becoming the first woman in the world to obtain a university degree, a possibility which up to that point had been denied to all women. Her achievement – which it would be no exaggeration to describe as monumental – becomes all the clearer when you realise that it would take another 54 years before the second woman emerged as a graduate from one of the world’s universities.

Elena Cornaro


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