Italy: Daniela Mapelli breaks 800-year-old glass ceiling.

Rome: The University of Padua has elected Daniela Mapelli as its new rector, the first woman to hold the top post at the institution since it was founded in 1222.

Mapelli, a professor of psychology, will be installed on 1 October, beginning her six-year term in time for the university’s 800th anniversary next year.

A native of Lecco in northern Italy, the 55-year-old Mapelli saw off competition in June for the rectorate from another woman, law professor Patrizia Marzaro.

Making reference to the rows of portraits of past rectors – eight centuries of male faces – Mapelli said: “From next October we will finally be able to say ‘men and women who led the University of Padua.'”

The election of Mapelli comes a year after Rome’s Sapienza University appointed Antonella Polimeni as its first rector since the university was founded by Pope Boniface VIII in 1303.

Padua is the second-oldest university in Italy, after Bologna, and the fifth-oldest surviving university in the world.

The women in charge of Rome’s museums

Copernicus and Galileo carried out their studies at the university, and in 1678 Elena Lucrezia Corner Piscopia became the first woman to graduate there, with a degree in philosophy.