Women in science – a celebration of NZ pioneers

19 September 2018
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Dame Charmian O’Connor

Pioneering women scientists who helped pave the way for others are being honoured as part of Women’s Suffrage 125 celebrations by having the University of Auckland’s science departments and schools named after them for the week.

The Faculty of Science becomes the Dame Charmian O’Connor Faculty of Science, in honour of Professor O’Connor’s outstanding career over 50 years of teaching and research at the University. A leader in education and passionate advocate for access to higher education for women, Dame Charmian was made a Dame in the 2018 New Year’s Honours.

The Kate Edger Department of Mathematics is named after the first woman to be awarded a New Zealand university degree and who went on to become a celebrated teacher and academic leader. The Kate Edger Education Charitable Trust, which Dame Charmian helped establish and which provides financial support for women to study at tertiary level, is permanently named after her.

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Kate Edger and Dame Mira Szászy

The Dame Mira Szászy School of Psychology honours one of New Zealand’s leading Māori educators who was the first Māori woman to be awarded a university degree and who dedicated her life to the welfare and needs of Māori. She believed Māori could only progress when the position of women within Māori society was improved.

Research Fellow Kate Hannah of the University of Auckland and Centre of Research Excellence Te Punaha Matatini says the new names have been enthusiastically adopted by staff.

“Women have always been scientists and educators but through these celebrations we hope to bring their achievements into the limelight to show younger women what can be achieved.”

A Faculty event will be held today, Wednesday 19 September, as part of the celebrations, and includes the launch of a Women in Science fundraising campaign to raise $125,000 to support scholarships, conference costs and academic positions for women.


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