Julia Lermontova

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Julia Lermontova: an early pioneer

Katharine Sanderson tells the story of a 19th century Russian chemist who made contributions across a range of chemistry. By the time Julia Lermontova successfully defended her thesis in October 1874, the number of women with doctorates in chemistry worldwide could be counted on one hand. In fact, they could be counted on one finger. At Göttingen University in Germany, Lermontova doubled the tally, probably just months behind Lydia Sesemann from Finland, who was the first woman to get a doctorate in chemistry, awarded by the University of Zurich. In a deeply patriarchal and often misogynistic society, Lermontova’s achievement was impressive. She was not only the first Russian woman to be awarded a doctorate for chemistry but also the first woman to do so at a German university.
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