Barbara Edlinger

Ring of Honour. Memorial to Oktavia Aigner-Rollett




> Click on the graphic to go to current institutions that support women's and girls' concerns.




The Sculpture Expand Box

The monument to Dr. Oktavia Aigner-Rollett, the first female physician in Graz, is a two-part, gold-plated ring sculpture made of steel. The inner diameter of the ring corresponds to Aigner-Rollett’s height. Each part of the ring sculpture is placed at a certain inclination to the earth’s surface, which corresponds to the sun incidence angle at the hour of her birth and the one at the hour of her death in Graz. Moreover, the ring sculpture – like other pieces of jewelry made of precious metal – features a “hallmark” that contains Aigner-Rollett’s date of birth and death.

The sculpture Ring of Honour was created in 1993/97 as a pioneering reinterpretation of a memorial sign in public space. On the initiative of the Institute for Art in Public Space Styria, the work was restored and technologically updated in 2008. In the course of the new installation in 2022, the monitors at the interfaces were replaced by engraved QR codes. These direct visitors to further information about Aigner-Rollett and at the same time serve as an interface for current women-specific concerns.



The Locations Expand Box

Each ring half stands alone on a public square in an area where Aigner-Rollett worked. One of these places is the University of Graz, where she was one of the first female medical students to receive her doctorate on December 5, 1905. At the same time, the square at the Pre-Clinic on Harrachgasse is her birthplace. The second place of activity is the area at St. Paul’s Gate, where the General Hospital and the Anatomical Institute were located back then. Aigner-Rollett was the first woman to work as a doctor at the General Hospital.



Dr. Oktavia Aigner-Rollett Expand Box

In Austria, women were officially granted permission to study philosophy in 1897, and to study medicine in 1900. The first female native of Graz to earn a doctorate from the university was Oktavia Rollett.

May 23, 1877: Oktavia Rollett is born as the eldest of six children of the physiologist and rector of the University of Graz, Alexander Rollett.
1897: After attending the Girls’ Lyceum in Graz, Rollett takes the English teaching qualification exam.
1900: After girls are permitted to take the school leaving exam, she prepares privately for it and graduates as an external student and the first female native of Graz from the Akademisches Gymnasium (then called the First State High School) on Tummelplatz. In return, she receives a school-leaving certificate on which the pre-printed permission clause for attending university is crossed out, in accordance with a ministerial regulation still in force for female high school graduates at the time.
1901–05: After women are admitted to medical school and despite her father’s opposition, Rollett studies at the University of Graz and passes all the colloquia and doctoral viva exams with distinction.
December 9, 1905: Rollett is the second woman to receive a doctorate in medicine in the Auditorium of the University of Graz.
1905: Dr. Rollett is the first woman in Graz to register for a medical practice.
1906: She is the first woman to become a member of the Styrian Medical Chamber and is the first female doctor to work at the General Hospital in Graz at St. Paul’s Gate, but only as an unpaid assistant physician due to a rejection decision by the Styrian State Committee (State Government).
1906/07: Dr. Rollett works as a secondary physician in the surgical department at St. Anne’s Children’s Hospital in Graz. She publishes a paper on knowledge concerning intraperitoneal cholera infection. A doctorate in philosophy (chemistry), which she was also partially working on parallel to her medical studies, was not awarded to her because of the professor’s resistance to a woman receiving a second doctorate.
September 26, 1907: Dr. Rollett opens an independent practice at Humboldtstrasse 17 in Graz, becoming the first female general practitioner in Austria outside of Vienna. She holds this pioneering position for more than a decade in Graz.
1908: After marrying Dr. med. Walter Aigner, an assistant at the Anatomical Institute of the University of Graz, Dr. Oktavia Aigner-Rollett, in addition to her practice, is also the first female school doctor at the Imperial and Royal Teacher Training College, as well as at its training school and kindergarten. She additionally works as medical specialist teacher at the Women’s Trade School, as a resident doctor at a private exercise institute and, towards the end of the Second World War, as an air raid protection doctor.
1935: Dr. Aigner-Rollett receives the honorary title of “Medical Councilor.”
End of 1952: After more than 45 years of uninterrupted professional activity in Graz, Dr. Aigner-Rollett, nearly 76 and ailing for quite some time, stops working as a doctor.
1955: She is the first woman in Graz to receive the Golden Doctor’s Degree.
May 22, 1959: Dr. Aigner-Rollett dies at 82 years of age. She is buried in the Graz Central Cemetery.

Source: Reinhold Aigner, “Die Grazer Ärztinnen aus der Zeit der Monarchie,” Zeitschrift des Historischen Vereines für Steiermark, 70, published by the Historical Association for Styria committee led by Ferdinand Tremel and Paul W. Roth, Graz, 1979, pp. 45–70

The Interfaces Expand Box

The interfaces of the ring halves are information carriers. Now marked with a QR code, they act as an gateway leading into virtual space to current institutions that support women's and girls' concerns. In this way, the tribute to the pioneer becomes a help for those living now, in the sense of the honoured.


Interface: University of Graz

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How do we improve gender equality? This is one of many questions that scientists and students at the University of Graz are addressing. By answering them, they contribute to solutions for the world of tomorrow. As a role model with social responsibility, the University of Graz bases its actions on the principles of anti-discrimination, equality and equal opportunities. It offers an equal-opportunity environment for people with a diversity of experience, skills and potential.
Equality, equal treatment and the advancement of women are firmly anchored in the University of Graz's mission statement. This objective encompasses all university areas – from research and teaching to organisation and personnel structures.
With the Working Group for Equal Treatment Issues, the Coordination Office for Gender Studies and Equality and the Rectorate's special representative for equality with regard to gender and diversity, the University of Graz has three institutions that work with different focuses to improve equal opportunities between women and men.

Podcast „gender & mehr – leicht gesagt!“

Interface: Mafalda

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Interface: Women's Health Centre, Graz

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Interface: Graz University of Technology

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Art in Public Space

Marienplatz 1/1
8020 Graz, Österreich
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St. Paul's Gate
Maria-Theresia-Allee, 8010 Graz
47°04'33.8"N 15°26'28.1"E

University of Graz
next to the main building
Universitätsplatz 3, 8010 Graz
47°04'38.1"N 15°26'59.6"E