Universiteit Leiden

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Women behind the scenes

Considering the fact that for a long time women were not allowed to participate either in university life nor in academia, women found different ways they could be included.

Their positions as secretaries, coffee ladies, and wives contributed to the successes male students and scholars achieved, however, they were rarely represented and their work often went unrecognized. Women like Rieka Niewenhuis  and her mother Moeke were active in the University, but partook in more “behind-the-scenes” roles. Rieka, a coffee lady at Leiden from the late 19th to early 20th century, created a safe haven for students to have a coffee and chat; the photograph depicted is of her and her mother, Moeke.

Portrait of Rieke and Moeke Nieuwenhuis
Rieke and Moeke Nieuwenhuis
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