Welcome, Welcome Little Women: TCD’s First Female Graduates

Olive PurserIn honour of International Women’s Day, a small exhibition entitled “Welcome, Welcome Little Women” can now be viewed in the Library’s Orientation Space. It is a display of books pertaining to and written by the first female graduates of Trinity, as well as some black and white images relating to them. It symbolises women’s struggle to gain access to third level education in Ireland at a time when it was purely a male sphere.

Photo is of Olive Purser – TCD’s first woman “scholar”. Before the 1960s, women were only allowed to get non-foundation scholarships, not foundation scholarships with added benefits as with the men. According to the Academic Registry, in recent years  a smaller number of female students have applied for the Scholarship Examination than male students, and as a result there is currently a gender imbalance in the number of Scholarships that are awarded. All evidence suggests that female students do as well as male students when they sit the examination; so why are fewer female candidates applying?