By: Suruchi Ramanujan '20
Medical professional and feminist Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American university. Although initially opposed to studying medicine, Blackwell turned to the physician profession after hearing about the mistreatment of women in the hospital from a close friend who while dying claimed that she would have had a greater chance of survival if her physician were a woman. Following this encounter, Blackwell abandoned her “feminine” job as a teacher and pursued her studies to become a physician. With the help of two physician friends, she was accepted into Geneva Medical College, an all-male school as a joke, where she pursued her M.D. until completion two years later. While this entrance could easily be deemed a success, she pursued further in the medical field, combatting the inherent sexism within the student body and teaching staff. Blackwell was forced to sit separate from her male counterparts and was frequently excluded from labs. Physicians often shunned her, but ultimately she completed her degree, ranking first in the class. Even following this success, patients and doctors felt uncomfortable with Blackwell treating them, regardless of her superiority as a physician. With much resistance from the global community, Blackwell created a hygiene initiative for those in poverty, opening a small clinic to treat the poor and educate women about the importance of feminine hygiene. At the same time, she combined her interests of medicine and educating the public to become a proponent of women pursuing medicine, demanding equality in the career world.
Final ScientisTalk of the Semester!
When: 4/25, 6-70pm
Where: Lowell Small Dining Hall
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