Emy Roeder was born on January 30, 1890, in Würzburg. In 1912, she began her artistic training under the sculpor Bernhard Hoetger in Darmstadt. Roeder completed her studies in 1915 and thereafter went to Berlin. There she came in contact with many progressive artists like Belling and her future husband Herbert Gabe and joined various artistic groups, including the Association of Radical Visual Artists.
In the 1920's, Emy Roeder became successful as a sculptor in Berlin, regularly participating in important exhibitions. She was associated with notable artists such as Käthe Kollwitz, Ernst Barlach, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, with whom she began a life long friendship.
In 1933, Emy Roeder accompanied her husband to Rome. Despite her husband's membership in the Nazi party, Roeder was forbidden to exhibit her works. For this reason when Gabe returned to Germany, she chose to remain in Italy, often plagued by financial crises.
In 1944 after the liberation of Italy from the fascist dictatorship, Emy Roeder was sent by the Allies to an internment camp. Only after intervention on the part of artist friends of hers was she released. Roeder first returned to Germany in 1950 when she received a teaching position, apartment, and studio from the city of Mainz. In 1955, she took part in the first documenta exhibition in Kassel.
Emy Roeder lived and worked as a respected sculptor in Mainz until her death on February 7, 1971.