Betty Petterson, Sweden’s first female university student, was enrolled at Uppsala University in 1872.2022-03-07
Film about Sweden’s first female university student
This year it is 150 years since the first woman, Betty Petterson, was enrolled at a Swedish university. Betty Petterson from Gotland studied linguistics and modern literature at Uppsala University.
Uppsala University has made a short film about Betty Pettersson in connection with it being 150 years since the first woman in Sweden got access to university studies. The film contains historical images from both Visby and Uppsala, along with facts about Betty Pettersson.
As part of the anniversary, the University Library has made a display in memory of Betty Pettersson. The display stands in one of Carolina Rediviva’s exhibition hall. There you can see the enrolment register entry when she is admitted to Gotland's nation.
Women were allowed to study medicine at university from 1870, but Betty Pettersson wanted to study the humanities and languages, subjects that were then forbidden to women. Betty Pettersson therefore wrote to the King and applied for an exemption after becoming the first woman in Sweden to graduate in 1871. Betty Pettersson therefore wrote to the King and petitioned for an exemption after being the first woman in Sweden to take a matriculation exam in 1871. She received her exemption and when she was admitted to Gotland’s nation in 1872, she was the only female student among 1545 students at Uppsala University.
Betty Pettersson broke new ground, and a couple of years after she was admitted to Uppsala University, women were given the right to study for a degree in the Arts Faculty, and at lower levels in the Faculty of Law.
After her university studies, Betty Pettersson worked as a teacher. In Blåsenhus where the teacher education programmes are based in Uppsala, there is a classroom named after her, and on Campus Gotland one of the buildings bears her name.
Watch the film and read more
- Betty Pettersson – the first woman to study at a Swedish university (the film is subtitled in Swedish and English)
- The Exhibition Hall at Carolina Rediviva
- Prominent people at Uppsala University