Gabriele Possanner

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Gabriele Possanner

Gabriele Possanner (27 January 1860 – 14 March 1940)[1] was the first female doctor to practice medicine in Austria.[2]


She was the daughter of the Austrian jurist Benjamin Possanner, and lived in six different cities until the age of twenty due to him moving often for his work.[3] In October 1880 he was appointed as Section Chief at the Imperial Treasury in Vienna, and the family, including Gabriele, was able to settle in Vienna.[3]

As a doctor, Possanner initially worked as a public medical officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Muslim women refused to be seen by male doctors.[4] She had been given a medical degree by the University of Zurich in 1894, but it was not until 1897 that she was able to take the viva voce examination a second time, this time in front of Viennese examiners, thus qualifying her to practice as a doctor in Austria.[5] She thus became the first woman to graduate from the University of Vienna with a medical degree in 1897.[5] After that, she was the only female doctor at an Austrian-Hungarian hospital until 1903.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Possanner died 14 March 1940.

In 1960, the Possannergasse in Hietzing was named after Gabriele.[4] In 2004, the Gabriele-Possanner-Park in the 9th Viennese district was named after her as well.[4] There is also the Gabriele Possanner Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in the 21st Viennese district.[4]

The Gabriele Possanner State Prize (German: Gabriele-Possanner-Staatspreis) is a state award for feminist research in Austria, named for Gabriele. It was established in 1997, and is awarded every second year by the Federal Ministry of Science and Research.[6]

Further reading[edit]

  • Possanner von Ehrenthal Gabriele Freiin, by M. Jantsch, in "Austrian Biographical Encyclopedia 1815-1950" (OBL). Volume 8, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 1983, ISBN 3-7001-0187-2, pg. 222.