The Tampere Association of Graduate Women was established on 27 October 1949 at the Tampere Finnish Club. Altogether, thirty-five women participated in the founding meeting including various professionals such as Masters of Science, Bachelors of Law, dentists, medical doctors, educators/lecturers, economists, pharmacists, civil engineers and architects. Licentiate of Medicine Elli Järvinen-Tapiola was elected as the first chairperson. At the time the association started, there were no higher education institutions in Tampere. (The School of Social Sciences moved to Tampere in 1960 and changed into the University of Tampere in 1966. The operations of what later came to be known as Tampere University of Technology started in 1965). From the beginning, the Tampere Association of Graduate Women joined the Finnish Federation of Graduate Women (founded in 1922).
In the first years, the association’s activities comprised presentation sessions, seminars, visits and other types of social events. Activities were often arranged together with other local associations and societies. Up-to-date themes concerning science, culture, medicine and society were discussed in membership activities. Such themes as the status of graduate women in education and working life, their various career paths and leadership roles as well as their activities in policy-making, economy and media were highlighted.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, women’s role in society became an important issue of concern. Equality matters and the debate on upbringing and education, adult education, cultural history and arts became key focuses on the agenda. Invited speakers included association members, but the association also invited local and national experts to introduce current topics and developments. The programme included, for example, visits to the following destinations: Pitkäniemi mental hospital (1953), Liuksiala manor in Kangasala (1956), Armi Ratia’s Marimekko (1966), Pohjoismaiden Yhdyspankki (1969), Tampere Provincial Library (1972) and Tampere University Library (1986).
Lic. Med. Elli Järvinen-Tapiola’s last will and testament (1994) enabled the encouragement and promotion of women’s scientific work related to academic degrees, such as Master’s or Doctoral theses. Transformations in academic work paved the way out of charity. The list of encouragement prize recipients can be found on this website under the heading Kannustuspalkinnot.
Furthermore, members of the Tampere Association of Graduate Women have dynamically participated in the activities of the Finnish Federation of Graduate Women acting as members of the central government and work committees as well as being active in communications. Lecturer Lyyli Vartiainen from Tampere was the first association representative in the central government already in the 1950s. Economist Tuula Sillanpää, and Masters of Science Sirkka Juva and Anneli Malmi have widely contributed to the activities of the national federation. The Tampere Association of Graduate Women pioneered in composing a brochure of association activities as well as in being a forerunner in setting up the association’s website. In 2006, a communications plan was composed which then served as a model for the other local associations.
The Tampere Association of Graduate Women has actively cooperated with other local women’s associations, for instance, by organising seminars, theatre visits, fundraising for a variety of purposes and get-together parties. A more systematic collaboration with other local unpolitical women’s associations started during the United Nation’s International Women’s Year in 1975. This collaboration continues with Zonta Club of Tampere I and Tekniikan Naisakatemia (TEKNA).
The Tampere Association of Graduate Women has celebrated its milestones. The 40th anniversary was celebrated in 1989, the 50th in 1999 and the 60th in 2009. Members of the Tampere association have also been active in organising the statutory annual general meetings in 1955, 1965, 1976, 1991, 2002 and 2004. In 2017, during the Finland-100 Anniversary, the statutory annual meeting was also held in Tampere.
The following quotation illustrates the initial purpose of the association activities: “There is a lot of knowledge and expertise when these intelligent women get together. One may only hope that everyone by herself and all women together would open up a little the scope of their expertise to her academic sisters. And everyone, according to their talent, contributes to the joint moments of get-together so that they will become intellectually inspiring and rewarding and, when we return to our workplaces, make us look forward to another reunion soon again.” Throughout its history, the association has created contacts among graduate women and served as a social network and meeting place for its members.
Examples of visits during the last few years:
2013: The Museum of Finnish Book, Pukstaavi, Sastamala.
2014: Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Design.
2015: Bioretec Ltd., Tampere; Gösta Museum, Mänttä-Vilppula; Police University College and Police Museum in Tampere; Bishop’s House in Tampere; In the aftermath of the Sibelius 150 Anniversary in Hämeenlinna, including a piano concert and an introduction to Sibelius’s life and family.
2016: Tampere University of Applied Sciences; In the aftermath of the Sibelius 150 Anniversary in Hämeenlinna, a piano concert at the Birthplace of Jean Sibelius; Laukko manor in Vesilahti; Lielahti City Library, Tampere; University of Tampere, School of Communication, Media and Theatre (CMT)
2017: Mind in the Motion -wellness activity, Tampere; Software company Vincit Corp., Tampere; Teivo Race Centre, Tampere; University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Unit of Pori and Pori Art Museum; A walking tour of the Pyynikki churchyard, Tampere.