This past Thursday, in the presence of members of her family, a portrait of Derkje Hazewinkel – Suringa (1889 – 1970) was unveiled. Hazewinkel – Suringa was the first woman lawyer to be appointed full professor at, and later Dean of, the law faculty. A group of women researchers had previously issued a call for the inclusion of women’s portraits in the Faculty Boardroom.
“We can all look up to her as a source of comfort and inspiration.” Five years ago, a group of women PhD researchers and professors penned a plea to (then) Dean Edgar du Perron in which they maintained that it was “indefensible” that only portraits of male deans – and therefore not one of Dean Hazewinkel – Suringa – were on display in the Boardroom of the Faculty of Law. At a faculty meeting in December 2013, they presented du Perron with a photo portrait of Derkje Hazewinkel – Suringa in the hope that it would find a place among the portraits on display in the Faculty Boardroom.
Rectification of the historical record
The Faculty Board was sympathetic at the time, and Folia also devoted an article to the initiative. Only now, several years after the first steps were taken, has the historical record been set straight with the installation of a portrait of Derkje Hazewinkel – Suringa in the Faculty Boardroom. Initiated by dean Andre Nollkaemper, the painting is the work of portraitist Irma Braat. This past Thursday during the Faculty Colloquium, the portrait was unveiled in the presence of members of Hazewinkel – Suringa’s family.
About Derkje Hazewinkel – Suringa
Derkje Hazewinkel – Suringa became a professor of criminal law at the UvA in 1932, making her the first female lawyer to be granted a professorship. She was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Law in 1939. Her appointment as a professor was received with some criticism - at the time, female civil servants could generally expect to be fired as soon as they married and had children.
In 1942, Hazewinkel-Suringa proposed closing the university in reaction to the firing of its Jewish professors. That proposal was however rejected and Hazewinkel was herself fired. Hazewinkel-Suringa’s professorship was reinstated after the war.