• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: IMP0115

Sweet, Georgina

(1875 – 1946)
  • Nationality Australian
  • Born 22 January, 1875, Brunswick Victoria Australia
  • Died 1 January, 1946, Canterbury Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Academic, Philanthropist, Women's rights activist, Zoologist


Georgina Sweet was Australia’s first female Acting Professor (Biology, University of Melbourne, 1916-1917). She was Associate Professor of Zoology at the University of Melbourne from 1920 to 1924. Sweet’s research included the zoology of Australian native animals and the parasites infesting Australian stock and native fauna. She was appointed OBE – Officer of The Order of the British Empire (Civil) – 3 June 1935, for services to women’s movements.


Georgina Sweet was born in Brunswick, Melbourne, the eldest daughter of George Sweet and his wife Fanny (née Dudman). Both parents were born in England. George was a tradesman and later ran the Brunswick Brick, Tile and Pottery Company.

Georgina Sweet was the University of Melbourne’s first female Associate Professor. She was a member of the Royal Society of Victoria and the Australian Association for Advancement of Science. She was highly intelligent and ambitious enough to use her talents. She won the University of Melbourne’s MacBain scholarship and completed her Bachelor of Science, then a Masters and finally her Doctorate in 1904. Though Sweet reportedly never felt disadvantaged by her sex, she was a strong supporter of women’s rights. She pushed for the admission of women to the University senate and worked to establish the University Women’s College. She served as Australian president of the YWCA (1927-1934); vice-president of the world YWCA from 1934; foundation member of the Victorian Women Graduates’ Association; and first president of the Pan-Pacific Women’s Association (1930).

Having inherited some wealth from her father, Sweet’s philanthropic gifts were largely directed toward the University of Melbourne and the Methodist Church. Publicity material from the University states that Sweet left ‘a generous bequest to endow fellowships in geology, zoology and medicine’. In fact, her original gift of £22,500 is now worth over half a million dollars to the institution with a further $200,000 in accumulated income. The Georgina Sweet bursary in social studies was established in 1946, the year of her death, in her memory.


Published resources

Archival resources

  • The University of Melbourne Archives
    • Sweet, Georgina (1875-1946)
    • Webb, Jessie Stobo Watson
  • Museums Victoria Collections
    • Georgina Sweet - Records
  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers on various Australian women [19--] [manuscript]

Related entries

  • Membership
    • Lyceum Club (Melbourne) (1912 - )
    • Graduate Women Victoria Inc. (1922 - )
    • The Catalysts' Society (1910 - )
  • Related Women
    • Webb, Jessie Stobo Watson (1880 - 1944)
  • Related Awards
    • Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship (2010 - )
  • Related Organisations
    • University Women's College (1936 - 1975)