Women in the Academy

Prof Swart
Professor Jacobus Swart at the Chamber of Senate, Amsterdam ca. 1970
Courtesy of W. Klooster

Professor Jacobus Swart (1915-1978) was a language and literature teacher who was a member of the faculty from 1961 to 1978. He was also director of every state examination-committee in the country, and held a second teaching position in The Hague. Apart from his busy schedule, he was also known for some of his outlandish rules. For example, he would not allow female students who were pregnant to take their exams.

Swart argued that women who were pregnant were often very emotional, due to the hormones running through their bodies. He allegedly feared that his expecting students might burst into tears during an examination, and told pregnant women to come back after nine months, when, in his opinion, they would have a better chance of graduating. His views were overtaken by more enlightened values as the English Department responded to the rise of feminism with the gradual inclusion of female faculty members.

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