Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States and the first woman on the UK medical register.
She obtained her degree in 1849. In 1890, Emma Constance Stone was the first woman admitted to the Victorian medical board in Australia. Both of these women were initially denied entrance to university.
Skip forward to modern day medicine, more than half of medical graduates worldwide are women. Women are making huge leaps and bounds in a profession that has been a traditional male bastion. Surgery is still an area dominated by men, with only around 10% of surgeons in Australia women.
In 2015, to show that stereotypes are off the mark, US general surgical resident Heather Logghe MD, first used the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon. This online campaign united hundreds of supporters on line and aims to demonstrate that the traditional notion of a middle aged man as a surgeon, were no longer applicable.
— Naomi Meardon (@abushelandapeck) January 20, 2016
Despite big steps forward, women are still subjected to sexism in surgery. Sometimes with and more recently, from outside from the profession. Recently, the conservative British newspaper, The Times, published an editorial denouncing the participation of women in the healthcare workforce, Women were blamed, their procreation and their lack of work ethic responsible for problems with the health workforce. The author, Dominic Lawson, sister of celebrity cook Nigella, was highly critical of the lack of commitment of women to their vocation and unwillingness to work weekends or in a full time capacity. Unsurprisingly, women doctors the world over were most unimpressed with the notion that hospital systems could fall apart on account of their ovaries and alleged laziness. The article resulted in a social media hashtag, #likealadydoc that took off around the globe on Twitter.