Monday’s Google Doodle celebrates French journalist Julie-Victoire Daubié, the first woman in her country to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Daubié, born in 1824, had little patience with the prevailing norms that held back many women of her generation. She studied Latin, Greek, history, geography and German with her brother’s help, but still faced numerous rejections from French universities despite the fact that no laws barred women’s entry to academic circles.
Studious and stubborn, she persisted in taking classes while working as a governess.
In 1859, Daubié entered an essay competition at the Imperial Academy of Science and Fine Letters of Lyon. Taking a stand for women’s suffrage, Daubié wrote an essay titled, “The Poor Woman in the 19th Century. Female Conditions and Resources,” a nearly 300-page opus surveying the travails of female workers, including wage inequality and exclusion from education and many professions. The essay not only earned acclaim and took first prize, but it also allowed Daubié admittance to the academy.
In 1861, at the age of 37, Daubié became France’s first female baccalaureate.
Daubié continued to champion women’s rights for the remainder of her life. She died in 1974 at the age of 50.
In its commemoration of Daubié on what would have been her 194th birthday, Google’s Doodle depicts the scholar and activist reaching for an academic certificate just within her grasp.