The depiction of the nymph Castalia – until 2016 the only representation of a woman in the arcaded courtyard – was the starting point for the art project “The muse has had enough”, developed and realised by the arist Iris Andraschek for the Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft and the University of Vienna.
German writer and women’s rights activist Hedwig Dohm wrote in 1876, “A woman should study because she wants to, because having no limits in one’s choice of profession is a major factor in one’s individual freedom and happiness.”
Women were admitted to the University of Vienna for the first time in 1897, from 1901 on the qualification for university entrance was the Higher School Certificate from a girls’ grammar school. As of 1919, girls were also allowed to go to less expensive public secondary schools, which had only admitted boys until that point.
In 1907 the Romanicist Elise Richter was the first woman in Austria to gain her habilitation (qualification to teach at university level). In 1921 she was the first woman to receive an associate professorship at Vienna University, albeit without pay. The Faculty for Catholic Theology was the last faculty to admit women in 1945. 11 years later in 1956, physicist Berta Karlik was the first woman to be granted a full professorship at the University of Vienna.
Since the beginning of the 1990s advancement for women and equality have been statutory. In 1995 a work group for equal treatment issues was established at Vienna University, in 1995 the first women’s advancement plan made for the science department. Since the University became self-governing in 2004, advancement for women and equality have been a focus of development.
For although women have constituted over 50% of the student body since the beginning of the 1980s, they are still extremely underrepresented in the higher scientific positions at the University.
The failure to honour the achievements of female scientists equally was the starting point for the art project “The muse has had enough!” in the arcaded courtyard. It had long been the subject of critical reflection that there was but a single honorary plaque in the arcaded courtyard commemorating a woman, Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach.
The artist Iris Andraschek expresses this using a shadow inlay. The failure of the University to honour the achievements of men and women equally is epitomised by the shadow on the floor of the arcaded courtyard and expressed in words on the stone plinths.