KEYWORDS: Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo, first woman PhD, University of Porto, transdisciplinary education, anthropology
SHE THOUGHT IT
Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo was the first woman to be granted a Ph.D. by the University of Porto, in 1944, thirty years after the foundation of this institution. She had a transdisciplinary education, which included courses in the Colleges of Humanities, Fine Arts and Sciences. She pursued her academic career in Historical and Natural Sciences at the University of Porto, in the field of Anthropology. In the 1960s, Paulo spent some time at the Zoology Institutes of Paris and Hamburg. She was a member of the Portuguese Anthropological and Ethnographic Society (SPAE) and the Portuguese Natural Sciences Society.
Born in 1908, in Porto, Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo was a remarkable student. She finished high school with honours, having been awarded the Prize Carolina Michaëlis. In 1928, she enrolled at the Faculty of Sciences of Porto and graduated in Historical and Natural Sciences in 1933. During that five-year span, Paulo also pursued what we would today call a transdisciplinary training at the University of Porto: she studied Aesthetics and Art History at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (1930-1931); took classes at the School of Fine Arts (such as Figure Drawing, Life Drawing, Ornate Drawing or Modelling); and studied Technical Drawing at the Faculty of Sciences, where she also took exams in the subjects of General Mathematics and Descriptive Geometry.1 In the last three years of her degree (1930-33), she also attended and completed the Drawing Teacher Qualification Course.
After her graduation, Paulo taught Mathematics for a year at the Liceu Nacional Martins Sarmento de Guimarães, and, in the following years, she kept on teaching at public schools (until 1942). In 1934, Paulo enrolled at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, where she completed the Pedagogical Sciences Course (1934-35), further pursuing her pedagogical training.
Her academic career started when she became assistant professor of anthropology at the Faculty of Sciences of Porto, in 1935. However, as Patrícia Ferraz de Matos has noticed, in those days, women only had access to positions at the University at “lower levels, such as assistant professor, and with temporary appointments, not reaching any doctoral dissertion”2 (p. 60). Although Paulo’s career progression was rather slow (when compared to her male counterparts), she stood out from the crowd by becoming the first woman to be granted a PhD by the University of Porto. In 1944, Paulo made the front pages of some local newspapers, when she held her doctoral exams on November 23, with the dissertation Alguns caracteres morfológicos da mão dos portugueses [Some morphological characters in the Portuguese hand] 2 (p. 60). She was back in the papers in june 1945, when she received her doctoral insignia.4 Paulo was only able to secure a permanent position at the university in 1970. She retired in 1976, one year after obtaining tenure.
Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo’s work is partly linked to the work carried out by the Portuguese Society of Anthropology and Ethnology (SPAE) and its larger colonial context during the the authoritarian regime in Portugal. In the same year Paulo was hired as assistant professor (1935), she was elected a permanent member of SPAE, which, contrary to other societies, counted women among its members from its beginning2 (p. 60). Working with António Augusto Mendes Correia, Paulo developed anthropological research on the peoples of the former colonies, collaborating, for instance, in “The First Portuguese Colonial Exhibition” and “Exhibition of the Portuguese World” (1940). She also participated in the Anthropological and Ethnological Mission of Guinea (1946-1947) and in the research carried out by the Overseas Office of the Anthropological Centre [Junta do Ultramar].
Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo was also a member of the Portuguese Society of Natural Sciences. Throughout her career, Paulo received several scholarships, including those from the national Institute of High Culture (1958-59), the Institute of German Culture (1969), the Institut für Humangenetik from the University of Münster, and the Zoologisches Staatsinstitut und Zoologisches Museum, in Hamburg, Germany. In the 1960s, she trained at Institutes of Zoology in Paris and Hamburg.1 In her later works, she was particulalrly interested in the study of ostracodes (a class of the Crustacea) in Portugal.
THEY SAID IT
At the University of Porto, a woman is going to obtain her doctoral degree in science, something unheard-of in our city’s academic life.
(Jornal de Notícias, November 21, 1944)
For the first time in the history of the University of Porto, a woman is subjected to doctoral exams in the Faculty of Science.
(O Comércio do Porto, November 23, 1944)
News of Paulo’s doctoral exams on Porto’s morning papers, cited by Patrícia Ferraz de Matos, “Antropology in Portugal: The Case of the Portuguese Society of Anthropology and Ethnology (SPAE), 1918”, in F. W. Gleach and R. Darnell (eds.), Local Knowledge, Global Stage. Lincoln and London. U Nebraska P, 2016. p. 87 n19.
Exhibition And Yet, They Move! Women and Science [E contudo, elas movem-se! Mulheres e Ciência], Rectorate of the University of Porto, Portugal, 10-29 september, 2019. [an illustration of Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo by Miguel Praça is displayed at the exhibition]
E contudo, elas movem-se! Mulheres e Ciência (com poemas) (2019), Org. Ana Luísa Amaral e Marinela Freitas. Porto: U.Porto Edições [the book contains a short bio on Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo, as well as an illustration by Miguel Praça].
Portrait of Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo, by Mário Bismark, on display at the Salão Nobre da Reitoria da Universidade do Porto, 2019.
WORKS BY LEOPOLDINA FERREIRA PAULO
(1940), Contribuição para o estudo da pigmentação dos portugueses. [Lisboa]: S.P.N.
(1940), Restos humanos pré-históricos do Monte de Pedrogal. Lisboa: Bertrand.
(with Américo Pires de Lima) (1940), São os portugueses dolicocéfalos?: um novo índice cefálico. [S.l. : s.n.], 1940.
(1944), Alguns caracteres morfológicos da mão nos portugueses. Porto: Tipografia Mendonça.
(1944), Prognatismo e capacidade craniana no homem. Porto: Imp. Portuguesa.
(1950), A dinamometria e as profissões. Lisboa: Associação Portuguesa para o Progresso das Ciências.
(1950), Os tipos constitucionais e as profissões. Lisboa : [s.n.].
(1954), Tipos constitucionais nos artistas. [S.l. : s.n.].
(1957) Corpulência, volume e constituição em português. Coimbra : [s.n.].
(1957), Impressões digitais nos indígenas da Guiné portuguesa. Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, Ministério do Ultramar.
(1969), Contribution à l’étude des ostracodes du Portugal : note sur une nouvelle espéce du genre Herpetocypris. [S.l. : s.n.].
(1970), Alguns caracteres descritivos dos cabindas e Angolas. [S.l.] : [s.n.].
(with Marília Moutinho) (1983), Systématique et distribution des ostracodes au Portugal. Porto: Instituto Zoologia Doutor Augusto Nobre.
Homem, Armando Luís de Carvalho (2006), O traje dos lentes: memória para a História da veste dos universitários portugueses (séculos XIX-XX). Porto: FLUP Edita.
Homem, Armando Luís de Carvalho (2018), “Mulheres doutoras nas universidades portuguesas (1926-1960)”, Faces de Eva. Estudos sobre a Mulher 39, pp. 75-92.
“Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo: Antigos Estudantes Ilustres da Universidade do Porto” (2015), SIGARRA UPorto. Universidade do Porto Digital / Gestão de Documentação e Informação.
Oliveira, Américo Lopes de (1981), Dicionário de Mulheres Célebres, Lello & Irmão Editores.
Patrícia Ferraz de Matos, “Antropology in Portugal: The Case of the Portuguese Society of Anthropology and Ethnology (SPAE), 1918”, in Frederic W. Gleach and Regna Darnell (eds.), Local Knowledge, Global Stage. Lincoln and London. University of Nebraska Press, 2016. pp. 53-98.
1 “Leopoldina Ferreira Paulo: Antigos Estudantes Ilustres da Universidade do Porto” (2015), SIGARRA UPorto. Universidade do Porto Digital / Gestão de Documentação e Informação.
2 Patrícia Ferraz de Matos, “Antropology in Portugal: The Case of the Portuguese Society of Anthropology and Ethnology (SPAE), 1918”, in Frederic W. Gleach and Regna Darnell (eds.), Local Knowledge, Global Stage. Lincoln and London. University of Nebraska Press, 2016. pp. 53-98.
3 Homem, Armando Luís de Carvalho (2006), O traje dos lentes: memória para a História da veste dos universitários portugueses (séculos XIX-XX). Porto: FLUP Edita.
4 ” A primeira dourorada”, UPorto Alumni #13 (2011). 13.ª edição da revista dos Antigos Estudantes da Universidade do Porto (U.Porto). Especial Centenário, p. 24.