During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of women in America.

Yet we can also find inspiration in the achievements of women from anywhere in the world throughout the course of history. One such woman is Julie-Victoire Daubié.

Born in France in 1824 as one of eight children, Daubié’s father died when she was less than 2 years old. She studied Latin, Greek, German, history and geography with help from her brother and grew to adulthood frustrated by the constraints limiting women’s roles in society.

By 1844, she received a teacher’s certificate and had studied zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Paris by renowned specialist Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.

Despite her education and lack of laws explicitly barring women from entering academia, Daubié was rejected from numerous French universities. She continued taking classes while working as a governess.

In 1859 she submitted her nearly 300-page essay, titled “The Poor Woman in the 19th Century: Female Conditions and Resources,” to an essay contest held by the Imperial Academy of Science and Fine Letters of Lyon.

Her work, which centered on the opportunities denied women during that era, earned her first place in the contest and a spot in the academy’s baccalaureate program. In 1861, at age 37, Daubié became the first woman to graduate from a French university.

Julie-Victoire Daubié spent her adult life engaged in activism and scholarship focused on gender equality. A recognized economic journalist, in 1871, she also became a literature graduate in Lyon, becoming the first female graduate in letters.

March 26 is the 195th anniversary of her birth.

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