Female doctors in history

There are more female doctors working in the UK than ever before; since the 1960’s the number of female medical students has increased ten-fold and figures suggest that by 2017, there will be more female doctors than male doctors for the first time in history.

In the past, women were not allowed to train as doctors and the medical field was dominated by men; women were only allowed to train as nurses and midwives. The first woman doctor to qualify was Dr Elizabeth Garrett-Anderson, who went to study in Paris because she was rejected by British universities. Garret-Anderson graduated from the University of Paris and subsequently set up her own medical practice in London; shortly after, she opened the London School of Medicine for Women and went onto open another medical school for women in Edinburgh. In 1876, an act was finally passed, which allowed women to study medicine.

Women who wanted to study medicine received a great deal of objection from men in the profession and general attitude in society towards women doctors was very negative. Many people campaigned against the decision to allow females to become doctors and women doctors were treated unfavourably in hospitals and clinics.

Female doctors in modern society

Over the last 100 years, the number of women pursuing a career as a doctor has increased enormously and there are now more female medical students than male students. Gender issues have largely subsided and women are now considered equals in the field of medicine. Many women pursue very successful careers in a variety of different medical specialities and many go on to reach very senior positions.

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