Seminar on “Women's room in change”

Submitted by: Nina Almgren, Uppsala University

Seminar on “Women's room in change”

At the seminar, Berit Sahlström presented her works of art that have hung in the university building since 2017 and put them in relation to her previous experiences as a student, researcher, teacher and gender equality officer at Uppsala University. The seminar was also attended by Ninna Edgardh, professor of ecclesiology, and Anneli Holmberg, senior lecturer in textile science.
Berit Sahlström's artwork shows that even at the beginning of the last century there were prominent intellectual women who were of great importance for both academia and for a broader debate in church and society.

The artworks in the university building are part of Uppsala University's history writing. Who is allowed to take a seat in the public space is to a large extent a question of relevance to equal opportunities work. It is important both because it tells a story that not everyone knows, but also to create a room where more people feel welcome. How Uppsala University presents its history is an expression of what kind of environment the university wants to be today.

COMPASS PERSPECTIVE – in what way(s) was the measure C O M P A S S?

C - because the artwork Women’s Room is a paraphrase of a group portrait in the theological faculty room. Berit Sahlström has replaced the men in the group portrait with female pioneers. Creative also to arrange a seminar that moves at the intersection of a number of different fields, women's history, art history, theology history, Uppsala history, and university history.
O - because the seminar is open and everyone using the hall in the university can see the artworks.
M - because it diversifies the portraits on the walls of the university buildings. People need to see counter stereotypical role models often for beliefs to change.
P - because by taking her starting point in the painting from 1911, but changing the characters, Berit Sahlström tells a story of change. To emphasize that change the seminar started with a history lecture in the theological faculty room with men portrayed on the walls and then continued with a lecture in a hall with several large artworks depicting women from the university's history.
S - because like the men who adorn many of Uppsala University's historic halls, Berit Sahlström's women will look down from the walls at many generations of students and employees. The works of art are weavings that will last for many hundreds of years.


  • The Faculty of Theology's Equal Opportunities Committee.
  • The Advisory Board for Equal Opportunities.
  • Vice-Chancellor (approve funding for equal opportunities projects).
  • The seminar was open for everybody, also outside the university.


What would you do the same/differently another time?
What have you learnt? 
Do you see relevance for this in other contexts?

Anyone who uses the hall can view the artworks, but the background and the female pioneers are not widely known. One improvement measure could be to adhere the information for each piece directly beside each artwork.