Women's History Month Feature: Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell
The month of March signifies the beginning of Women’s history Month. In honor of this occasion, we will be featuring an outstanding woman from history, highlighting the amazing accomplishments of women in our nation’s storied past
Our first installment of 2023 features Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first women to receive a medical degree. Ms. Blackwell championed the participation of women in the medical field and ultimately opened her own medical college for women.
Elizabeth Blackwell was born in England and emigrated to America as a child in 1832. After her father died and left the family broke, Elizabeth and her mother worked as teachers to make due. She was inspired to pursue medicine after a dying friend told her that her ordeal would have been better if her doctor was a woman.
While teaching, Elizabeth lived with two physicians who served as mentors for her. She resolved to become a physician but could not gain admittance to any medical school, as none would take a woman.
Eventually, a small rural school called Geneva College admitted her as a practical joke, but Elizabeth Blackwell persisted nevertheless. She endured discrimination on a daily basis: professors would separate her from the other students and excluded her from labs; even local townspeople protested her inclusion in the college as an affront to traditional gender roles.
Despite such obstacles, Dr. Blackwell eventually earned the respect of her professors and peers and even worked in hospitals in London and Paris (though often relegated to the role of nurse or midwife).