Irene Myrtle Lowe took pride in telling her children she was the first woman in the southern hemisphere to complete a degree in agricultural science, writes her daughter Judy Thomson for the Invisible Farmer Project.
Ms Lowe started her Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne in 1913. Her arrival at Dookie College for her practical final year at the farm campus caused a commotion at the campus and in the press, writes her daughter.
"The principal met her at the railway station and the students lined the drive waving flags and singing 'Long Live the Lady Student!'" according to Ms Thompson.
"She could not escape the publicity. The Sydney Bulletin of 6 May's cartoon showed a woman ploughing a crooked furrow and quipping, 'Don't you know that curves are fashionable this year?'
"She had entered a man’s world and survived the students' staring and silliness not to mention the staff's cynicism."
Despite this, Ms Lowe worked as hard as any student on the campus, and after a successful year at Dookie she returned to the University of Melbourne's Parkville campus to graduate with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in March 1918.
Read the complete story at ABC Open, and below, an extract on Ms Rowe from Land and Food : Agricultural and Related Education in the Victorian Colleges and the University of Melbourne, by former Dean of agriculture at the University Lindsay Falvey, and former Deputy Dean Barrie Bardsley.
The Invisible Farmer Project is a collaboration between organisations including the University of Melbourne, ABC Rural, Museums Victoria, the National Library of Australia and National Foundation for Australian Women. Learn more on the project website.
Story by Stuart Winthrope.