First female honorary member

Published in 18th-19th Century Social Perspectives, 18th–19th - Century History, Features, General, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2011), Volume 19

Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, Russian aristocrat and associate of Catherine the Great, the Academy’s first female honorary member.

Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, Russian aristocrat and associate of Catherine the Great, the Academy’s first female honorary member.

In common with the majority of such societies, it took the RIA over 150 years to allow women into its membership on the same terms as men, but it was prepared from early on to confer honorary membership on a small number of women (five in total between 1791 and 1876). The first was Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, Russian aristocrat and associate of Catherine the Great, who was president of the Russian Academy of Sciences and was known to RIA members since 1779, when she had visited Ireland as part of an extensive European tour. Presumably the connection with such a learned society was so great an attraction for the RIA as to outweigh any scruples about honouring a woman.

 

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