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Aletta year: 20 April 2021 – 20 April 2022

UG honours Aletta Jacobs

Baanbreeksters by Marian Joëls tells the story of ‘twelve first women’

19 April 2021

It is exactly 150 years ago that Aletta Jacobs was the first female student to be admitted to a university as a regular student. She completed her medical degree programme at the University of Groningen. Although much has been achieved since, female access to key positions is still a current theme today. Marian Joëls is Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences/UMCG, Professor of Neurobiology, and the author of several books. On Tuesday 20 April, Marian will present her book Baanbreeksters, in which she interviews twelve ‘first women’ about their way to the top and explores the decisive factors in their success.

Marian Joëls
Marian Joëls

Which women are the first to reach the top in their profession? Is it those that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth who are determined to become ‘the first’? No, as it turns out, the opposite is true. Marian’s book analyses the similarities in twelve women’s environments, careers and characters. The twelve ‘first women’ speak candidly about important moments in their lives: their youth, their choice of degree programme, the role of coincidence or planning, the people who supported them or served as examples, and the hurdles that they found on the way that they were paving. It is remarkable to see that none of the women had more opportunities than others, but that they all managed to turn every tiny opportunity into a great success. Baanbreeksters is a story about perseverance, optimism, support and faith that everything will turn out fine.

For her book, Marian Joëls interviewed women in politics and government, academia, religion, art, sport and business. One of the twelve ‘first women’ portrayed is Cisca Wijmenga, Rector Magnificus of the University of Groningen. Marian previously wrote the book Een zeepaardje in je hoofd, which was published in 2009.

Last modified:29 April 2021 2.40 p.m.
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