Women Scholars and Writers of Science between the Liberal
Age and Fascism. The Bottero-Magistrelli Case
This article reconstructs the careers of Evangelina Bottero (1859-1950) and Carolina Magistrelli (1858-1939), placing them in the context of the access of women to science higher education in Italy. In 1881 Bottero and Magistrelli graduated at the University of Rome, first women to get a university degree in science in Italy. In 1883 they wrote together a book on the telephone. In the following years, Magistrelli continued to publish science text-books, and in 1886 she wrote a pamphlet on “women emancipation”. In 1882, they were hired at the Istituto Superiore Femminile di Magistero (Female Institute of Higher Education, ISFM) in Rome, where Bottero taught physics and chemistry, and Magistrelli natural sciences. In 1890 Bottero and Magistrelli were the first women in Italy to obtain a tenured professorship in an institution of university level. After several decades, their brilliant carrier at the ISFM ended suddenly in 1923. During the first Mussolini Government, the reform of education launched by Giovanni Gentile changed many things within the ISFM, with dramatic effects on the carriers of Bottero and Magistrelli. The reform of the ISFM – that in 1935 will become the Faculty of Education (Facoltà di Magistero) – sanctioned the admission of men and the expulsion of the sciences.