The Residencia de Señoritas, the female counterpart to the Residencia de Estudiantes, was opened in October 1915 and it was created, just like its masculine equivalent, by the Junta para Ampliación de Estudios (JAE). On its centenary, Acción Cultural Española and the Residencia de Estudiantes not only want to celebrate this female division of the Residencia and pay tribute to what is considered the first official centre to promote the higher education of women in Spain, but also demonstrate what a huge step towards the equality in women’s rights it was - a renovation plan in Spanish society, inspired by the Institución Libre de Enseñanza (ILE).
With this objective in mind, an initial walkthrough was created, laying out all the proposals related to female education and the incorporation of women into professional life, that in the last third of 19th century, promoted men and women linked to the ILE. Moreover the rooms of the exhibition, with its vast selection of books, documents, photographs and plastic arts, show the groundbreaking venture that was the Residencia de Señoritas. It is astounding to think that with only 21 years after the conception of this avant-garde institution, not only had it achieved significant practical aims, going from the occupation of a small villa in Calle Fortuny, Madrid with a capacity of thirty students to having twelve buildings housing around three hundred students, but also it cultivated an extraordinary group of highly qualified women, thanks to the breaking down of traditional gender structures and transformation of the female condition in Spanish society.