Women in medicine

Women in medicine

Historically and in many parts of the world, women's participation in the profession of medicine (as physicians, for instance) has been significantly restricted, although women's "practice" of medicine, informally, in the role of caregivers, or in the allied health professions, has been widespread. Most countries of the world now guarantee equal access by women to medical education, although not all ensure equal employment opportunities [See generally, "Women's Human Rights", 1998, Human Rights Watch (available [http://www.hrw.org/worldreport99/women/women3.html online] ).] and gender parity has yet to be achieved within the medical specialties and around the world.Fact|date=July 2008

History of women in medicine

Women's participation in the medical professions was limited by law and practice during the decades while medicine was professionalizing.See generally Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English, "Witches, Midwives, and Nurses" (1973).] However, women continued to practice medicine in the allied health fields (nursing, midwifery, etc.), and throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, women made significant gains in access to medical education and medical work through much of the world. These gains were sometimes tempered by setbacks; for instance, Mary Roth Walsh documented a "decline" in women physicians in the US in the first half of the twentieth century, such that there were fewer women physicians in 1950 than there were in 1900.Walsh, 1977.] However, through the latter half of the twentieth century, women had gains generally across the board. In the United States, for instance, women were 9% of total US medical school enrollment in 1969; this had increased to 20% in 1976. By 1985, women comprised 14% of practicing US physicians.Morantz-Sanchez, Preface.]

At the beginning of the twenty-first century in industrialized nations, women have made significant gains, but have yet to achieve parity throughout the medical profession.Fact|date=July 2008 For instance, women have achieved near parity in medical school in some industrialized countries, and in the United States, women actually made the majority of the medical student body in 2003. [ [http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/pressrel/2003/031104.htm "Applicants to U.S. Medical Schools Increase; Women the Majority for the First Time"] , Association of American Medical Colleges, Nov. 3, 2003, press release ("Women made up the majority of medical school applicants for the first time ever").] In 2007-2008, women accounted for 49% of medical school applicants and 48.3% of those accepted. [http://www.aamc.org/data/facts/charts1982to2007.pdf]

However, the practice of medicine remains disproportionately male overall. In industrialized nations, the recent parity in gender of medical students has not yet trickled into parity in practice. In many developing nations, neither medical school nor practice approach gender parity.

Moreover, there are skews within the medical profession: some medical specialties, such as surgery, are significantly male-dominated, [Dixie Mills, "Women in Surgery - Past, Present, and Future" (2003 presentation, Association of Women Surgeons; available at [http://www.womensurgeons.org/about/items/womeninsurgery2003c.ppt AWS website] .] while other specialties are significantly female-dominated, or are becoming so. In the United States, female physicians outnumber male physicians in pediatrics and female residents outnumber male residents in family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, and psychiatry. [ [http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/16229.html AMA (WPC) Table 16 - Physician Specialties by Gender- 2006 ] ] [ [http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/12915.html AMA (WPC) Table 4 - Women Residents by Specialty - 2005 ] ]

Women continue to dominate in nursing. In 2000, 94.6% of registered nurses in the United States were women. [ [http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/reports/rnsurvey/rnss1.htm RNSS ] ]

Biomedical research and academic medical professions -- i.e., faculty at medical schools -- are also disproportionately male. Research on this issue, called the "leaky pipeline" by the National Institutes of Health and other researchers, shows that while women have achieved parity with men in entering graduate school, a variety of discrimination causes them to drop out at each stage in the academic pipeline: graduate school, postdoc, faculty positions, achieving tenure; and, ultimately, in receiving recognition for groundbreaking work. [The term was coined by S.E. Berryman in "Who Will Do Science?", 1983; see Louise Luckenbill-Edds, [http://www.ascb.org/index.cfm?id=1584&navid=112&tcode=nws3 "2000 WICB / Career Strategy Columns (Archive)"] , Nov. 1, 2000, WICB Newsletter, "American Society for Cell Biology".] [A. N. Pell, "Fixing the Leaky Pipeline: Women Scientists in Academia", "Journal of Animal Science", v.74, pp. 2843-2848 (1996), available online at [http://jas.fass.org/cgi/reprint/74/11/2843.pdf "Journal of Animal Science"] , FASS.org.] [Jacob Clark Blickenstaff, "Women and Science Careers: Leaky Pipeline or Gender Filter?", "Gender and Education", v.17, n.4, pp. 369-386 (Oct. 2005).] [National Academy of Sciences, "Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering".] (See women in science for a broader discussion.)

chools of medicine for women

When women were routinely forbidden from medical school, they sought to form their own medical schools.
* Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women (founded 1886 by Sophia Jex-Blake)
* London School of Medicine for Women
* Tokyo Women's Medical University (founded 1900 by Yoshioka Yayoi)
* [http://archives.drexelmed.edu/ Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania] (founded 1850 as Female Medical College of Pennsylvania)

Hospitals with significant female involvement

* New Hospital for Women (founded by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and run largely by women, for women)
* South London Hospital for Women and Children (founded 1912 by Eleanor Davies-Colley and Maud Chadburn; closed 1984; employed an all-woman staff)

Pioneering women in medicine

* James Miranda Barry (179?-1865) A renowned woman doctor who passed as a man to gain a medical education and practice medicine. [ [http://www.scotland.org/about/innovation-and-creativity/features/education/medical.html "Scotland: Just the Medicine that the Doctor Ordered"] , Aug. 2005.]
* Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) First woman to graduate from medical school in the US; MD 1849, Geneva College, New York.
* Lucy Hobbs Taylor (1833-1910) The first woman dentist in the United States.
* Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) Pioneering woman doctor and feminist in Britain; co-founder of London School of Medicine for Women.
* Edith Pechey-Phipson (1845-1908) Pioneering doctor in the United States; MD 1877, University of Bern and Trinity College Dublin.
* Emma K. Willits (1869-1965) Believed to be only the third woman to specialize in surgery and the first to head a Department of General Surgery--at Children's Hospital in San Francisco, 1921-1934. [Edwards, Muriel, M.D., "Emma K. Willits," "Journal of the American Medical Women's Association", 5/1 (January 1950): 42-43.]
* Yoshioka Yayoi (1871-1959) One of the first women to gain a medical degree in Japan; founded a medical school for women in 1900.
* Marie Equi (1872-1952) American doctor and activist for women's access to birth control and abortion. [ [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_103.html "Dr. Marie Diana Equi"] , NLM Changing the Face of Medicine.]
* Muthulakshmi Reddi (1886-1968) First woman doctor in India; major social reformer; founder of a significant medical institution; MD 1912, Madras Medical College.
* Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) Significant work in anesthesiology and teratology; founded field of neonatology; first woman granted full professorship at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.
* Jane Elizabeth Hodgson (1915-2006) Pioneering provider of reproductive health care for women and advocate for women's rights.
* Nancy C. Andrews (b.1958) First woman Dean of a major medical school in the United States (2007, Duke University School of Medicine.

Women's history and women's health movement

Scholars have been examining the history and sociology of medicine for decades. Biographies of pioneering women physicians were common throughout this time, but the study of women in medicine took particular root with the advent of the women's movement in the 1960s, and in conjunction with the women's health movement. Two publications in 1973 were critical in establishing the women's health movement and scholarship about women in medicine: First, the publication of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" in 1973 by the Boston Women's Health Collective, ["Our Bodies, Ourselves" (1973).] and second, "Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Female Healers", a short paper by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English also in 1973. The Ehrenreich/English paper examined the history of women in medicine as the professionalization of the field excluded women, particularly midwives, from the practice. Ehrenreich and English later expanded the work into a full-length book, "For Her Own Good", which connected the exclusion of women from the practice of medicine to sexist medical practices; this text and "Our Bodies, Ourselves" became key texts in the women's health movement.

The English/Ehrenreich text laid out some early insights about the professionalization of medicine and the exclusion of women from the profession, and numerous scholars have greatly built upon and expanded this work. These scholars include:

* Diana Elizabeth Long, 1938- PhD 1966 Yale University Department of History of Science and Medicine; 1999-2006 (significant work as Project Scholar, "Literature and Medicine," Maine Humanities Council); pioneering research in medical indexing and gender with national and international acclaim; 1989 first director of University of Southern Maine Women's Studies.


* Benton JF, "Trotula, women's problems, and the professionalization of medicine in the Middle Ages", "Bulletin of Historical Medicine" v. 59, n.1, pp.30-53 (Spring 1985).
* Catriona Blake, "The Charge of the Parasols: Women's Entry to the Medical Profession"
* Charlotte G. Borst, "Catching Babies: Professionalization of Childbirth, 1870-1920" (1995), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
* Elisabeth Brooke, "Women Healers: Portraits of Herbalists, Physicians, and Midwives" (biographical encyclopedia)
* Melodie Chenevert, "STAT: Special Techniques in Assertiveness Training for Women in the Health Profession"
* Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, "Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers"
* Deirdre English and Barbara Ehrenreich, "For Her Own Good" (gendering of history of midwifery and professionalization of medicine)
* Julie Fette, "Pride and Prejudice in the Professions: Women Doctors and Lawyers in Third Republic France," "Journal of Women's History", v.19, no.3, pp. 60-86 (2007). (examining women professionals in France, 1870-1940)
* Metta Lou Henderson , "American Women Pharmacists: Contributions to the Profession"
* Regina Morantz-Sanchez, "Sympathy and Science: Women Physicians in American Medicine" (1985 first ed.; 2001)
* Ellen S. More, "Restoring the Balance: Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850-1995"
* Bobette Perrone, H. Henrietta Stockel, and Victoria Krueger, "Medicine Women, Curanderas, and Women Doctors" (1993) (cross-cultural survey of female practice of medicine)
* Rosemary Pringle, "Sex and Medicine: Gender, Power and Authority in the Medical Profession"
* Patricia M. Schwirian, "Professionalization of Nursing: Current Issues and Trends" (1998), Philadelphia: Lippencott, ISBN 0781710456
* Mary Roth Walsh, "Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply: Sexual Barriers in the Medical Profession, 1835-1975" (1977)
* Rose Young, "Chances Denied Women Doctors; Noted Suffragist Says That Men Thwart Their Efforts", "New York Times" Magazine, Aug. 1, 1915. [http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf&OQ=_rQ3D1Q26resQ3D9907E5DE133FE233A25752C0A96E9C946496D6CF&OP=7660d5eQ2FsuxmsqQ237xNjQ25sQ3E7wNffqosNeQ3EIQ23ExfeC7xQ3E7xjsNe7Q23Q3EQ5Ex9fjatI7Q25Q5E]

ignificant biographies

* Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, "A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812" (1991)


Further research

* "Changing the Face of Medicine", 2003 Exhibition at the National Library of Medicine [http://www.nih.gov/news/NIH-Record/11_11_2003/story05.htm "NLM Exhibit Honors Outstanding Women"] , "NIH Record", Nov. 11, 2003.] ; exhibition website at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine .
* [http://umanitoba.ca/libraries/units/health/resources/womhist/index.html History of Manitoba Women in Health] - includes brief biographies of the following: Dr. Charlotte Whitehead Ross, Dr. Amelia Yeomans, Dr. Elizabeth Beckett Matheson, Dr. Margaret Ellen Douglass, Dr. Frances Gertrude McGill, Dr. Elinor Frances Elizabeth Black, Dr. Gerda Allison, Phyllis Jean McAlpine, PhD, F.C.C.C.G, The Grey Nuns, Margaret Scott, Anne G. Ross, Mary Speechly, Dr. Helen Glass, Grace Easter
* [http://archives.drexelmed.edu/womanmd/home.php Women Physicians: 1850s-1970s] - online exhibit at the Drexel University College of Medicine [http://archives.drexelmed.edu/ Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy]

ee also

* American Medical Women's Association
* History of medicine
* Men in nursing
* Women in the workforce

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