Italy has inaugurated its first public statue of a female scientist a few months after a survey revealed a massive imbalance between effigies of men and women in public spaces.
The new statue was unveiled in Milan this month. It represents the Italian scientist Margherita Hack, a celebrated astronomer. Hack died in 2013 at 91 years old. Born in Florence, she was a noted astrophysicist but is also remembered as an inspiration for generations of young women looking to follow careers in science.
Hack brought the Astronomical Observatory of Trieste to fame when, in 1964, she assumed the position as the first female head of the institution. She made frequent television appearances and is particularly noted as a scientific disseminator.
The bronze statue of Hack was designed by Italian artist Sissi. It depicts the scientist emerging from a spiraling form recalling a galaxy. She is gazing upwards through a telescope, a pose taken from a photo shoot in 2009. The monument is located next to the main campus of the University of Milan.
It joins just 148 other statues of women in public spaces in Italy. The sum was recorded by Mi Riconosci?, a group comprising several professionals in the cultural sector. Their survey also found that only a third of these statues sit in a square while an even lower number honor women for their advancements in intellectual fields like science or the arts.
Earlier this year, two councilors in the northern Italian city of Padua began a campaign to introduce a female statue to its most famous square. Prato della Valle, the largest square in Italy, is home to 78 statues all representing men.
Last year, a newly unveiled sculpture of a woman sparked an outcry. The Gleaner of Sapri, a statue inspired by an 1857 poem in which a female gleaner leaves her job to join efforts to overthrow the king of Naples, was slammed for its overly sexualized attire.