Objects of Museums and collections of the Universitat de València

Portrait of Dean Blasco 

Gender roles

Gender and space

Gender and education

The portrait of Vicente Blasco García (1735-1813), work of the painter Mariano Salvador Maella (1739-1819), immortalizes the former dean of the Universitat de València (1784-1813). Blasco García was the author of the 1787 Study Plan for the modernization of university studies, the consummation of the scientific renovation initiated by the novatores, Spanish intellectuals of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Notwithstanding the modern spirit of Dean Blasco, when we observe his portrait today, hung in the boardroom of the La Nau Cultural Center along with numerous other portraits of former deans, we are struck by the absence of women among the illustrious ancestors of the institution. Women are not represented because academic positions, like university studies, were for centuries reserved exclusively for men. Women began to enter the world of higher education at the end of the 19th century, and the 20th century saw their entrance into the sphere of teaching. It was not until well into the 20th century, however, that women began to occupy academic positions. In 2018 the first woman dean was elected, after more than five centuries of history.

X-ray Diffractometer

Gender roles

Gender and space

Gender and history

This device manufactured by Philips for the diffraction of x-rays has been used to analyze a wide range of materials. Its use is fundamental for determining the mineral composition of a crystal structure, a laboratory technique that reveals the structural make-up and chemical composition of materials. It was an instrument of this type that was finally able to identify the structure of DNA, for which the researchers involved were awarded two Nobel prizes. Years later, it was revealed that the work of the chemist Rosalind Franklin was central to the understanding of the structure of DNA, but her contributions to the discovery were only recognized posthumously. This is yet another example of the so-called “Matilda effect” that countless women scientists have suffered throughout history.

Holotype of Aphanius bicorbensis Gaudant 2010

Gender roles

Gender and space

Gender and history

This is a holotype of the Aphanius bicorbensis Gaudant 2010, a prehistoric fish that lived ten million years ago. It belongs to the family Cyprinodontidae, and is also known as the toothcarp. It was discovered in 2010 in the outcropping of the salt paleolake in Bicorp (Valencia). The species lived during the Late Miocene sub-epoch. This wetland predator may be a distant ancestor of today’s Spanish toothcarp, or Spanish pupfish, found in the Albufera freshwater lagoon in Valencia. This specimen belongs to the Scientific Collection housed in the Museu de la Universitat de València d’Història Natural. Paleontology is the study of fossils, and it has always been regarded as a male profession because fieldwork, excavations and scientific debates were not considered a woman’s work. However, at the beginning of the 19th century Mary Anning was the first female paleontologist to be recognized as such. She had been rejected in her time (and is even today unfairly considered) because she was a woman from a poor family who was intruding upon a male profession.