New Biographical Dictionary of Swedish Women

The University of Gothenburg received a great deal of media attention in connection with 8 March and the International Women’s Day. The launching of a new online dictionary devoted to Swedish women and their contributions in Swedish society from the Middle Ages to the present was the main reason for the media interest. At present, the dictionary features 1 000 women, but the plan is to continuously add new names. All 1 000 women, of whom none are still alive, have played important roles in Swedish women’s history.

According to Lisbeth Larsson, professor of comparative literature and project originator, the plans for a women’s dictionary date back to the 1970s. However, nothing has ever been produced until now, as it has been notoriously difficult to acquire funding for something titled a gender equality project. The trick was, says Larsson, to instead start categorising the dictionary idea as an infrastructure project. The strategy worked, and now Riksbankens Jubileumsfond is funding the project, which started two years ago and is coordinated by Maria Sjöberg, professor of history at the University of Gothenburg.

Almost 400 people from various Swedish academic and cultural institutions have been involved in the dictionary project. That’s what I call excellent teamwork. Thanks to all of you who made it happen!

Those of you who still have not checked out the new dictionary, I suggest you do so promptly. And those of you who have suggestions for other women who should be included in the dictionary, please contact the project team.

The fact that the University of Gothenburg has helped bring attention to the role of women in history feels both exciting and appropriate as we are right in the middle of some major gender equality efforts. In fact, the Swedish government has instructed all higher education institutions in the country to increase the gender equality in all of their operations. The ongoing national gender mainstreaming project is an important part of this ambition.

Besides the launching of the new online dictionary, the University hosted several interesting events on the International Women’s Day, such as a panel discussion focusing on the presence of gender issues on today’s political agenda.

Eva Wiberg