Georgina Sweet

Georgina SweetOBE (22 January 1875 1 January 1946) was an Australian zoologist and women’s rights activist. She was the first woman to graduate with a Doctor of Science from the University of Melbourne, and was the first female acting professor in an Australian university.

Georgina Sweet at her graduation, 1904
Australian zoologist

Georgina Sweet

1937 photograph by Spencer Shier
Born (1875-01-22)22 January 1875

Brunswick, Victoria, Australia
Died 1 January 1946(1946-01-01) (aged 70)
Occupation zoologist
Known for parasitologist

. . . Georgina Sweet . . .

Sweet was born into a Methodist family in Brunswick, Victoria; her English father George Sweet was an amateur geologist and encouraged both his daughters to enter tertiary education.[1] Sweet attended the Parkville Ladies’ College, then went on to the University of Melbourne where she completed her BSc in 1896 and her MSc in 1898. Her early research was supervised by Baldwin Spencer and was on Australian fauna, but her later studies were based in the veterinary department working on parasites. She was awarded her DSc in 1904 for her study of Notoryctes – the marsupial mole; she was the first woman to take out a Doctor of Science at the University.[1] Her work on parasites in Australian native animals and stock led to the award of the David Syme Research Prize in 1911, she was the first female recipient of the prize and she received a reputation as Australia’s foremost parasitologist.[1]

Sweet taught biology in high schools while studying; she was employed by the University from 1898 when she began work as a demonstrator, she lectured at Queen’s College from 1901 to 1908 until she was offered a position in the university faculty. She lectured in both biology and parasitology and bore a heavy workload due to the periodic absence of the faculties professors.[1] She became second-in-charge of the biology school when Thomas Sergeant Hall died in 1915, and from November 1916 to March 1917 she was Australia’s first female acting professor when Baldwin Spencer took leave.[2] She was encouraged to apply to take his position permanently, but was not successful, with the position going to W. E. Agar. She was promoted to associate professor in 1920 and was the first woman to hold such a senior academic position at the university; however due to stress and over-work she had to apply for sick leave in 1921, she worked part-time from 1924 and retired in 1926.[citation needed]

After leaving teaching Sweet continued to be involved in university life. She was active in the Graduates’ Association and was involved in the provisional council for the establishment of the University Women’s College for 20 years. The first stone of the Georgina Sweet wing was laid in 1936 and in the following year the first nondenominational hall of residence affiliated with the University opened.[3] In 1936 she was the first woman elected to the University Council.

. . . Georgina Sweet . . .

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. . . Georgina Sweet . . .