12 trailblazing women doctors…and their inspiring stories

The foundational history of modern medicine is dominated by male figures who have endowed the profession with a masculine aura. Right from the times of Hippocrates and Galen, through to the eras of Vesalius and Harvey, countless great men have chiselled the medical profession into a muscular club, and deliberately or inadvertently kept it a manly enterprise. And the status of women in medicine was a contentious subject even in the time of Osler who was all for removing obstacles to the dreams of women becoming doctors.

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But the hope of the walls ever coming down did not rest on the chance that the men will have a change of heart. Rather, it was the determination and resolve of a small number of women to attack the barricades and storm the citadel of medicine that started to turn the tide. Ignoring cold shoulders and outstaring icy glares, these women will not only barge into the profession, but they would stamp their marks of excellence on it.

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In our next series of book reviews, we will celebrate 12 outstanding women who bravely stood up, not just to the men in white coats, but to society as a whole, to issue a statement – we belong. With occasional guile and subterfuge, but with a steely sense of purpose, the 12 women doctors in this series will stake their claim in the edifice of medicine. And they did so by either pioneering the female medical movement, or by making substantial defining contributions to the field.

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So, with 12 fascinating books as our guides, we will travel back in time to live through the inspiring stories of these 12 trailblazing women doctors.

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FRANCES KELSEY

Frankie
by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenko

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FLORENCE SABIN

The Life of Florence Sabin

by Judith Kaye

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VIRGINIA APGAR

Virginia Apgar
by Xina M Uhl and Melanie Ann Appel

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HELEN TAUSSIG

To Heal the Heart of a Child
by Joyce Baldwin

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ALICE STEWART

The Woman Who Knew Too Much
by Gayle Green

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RITA LEVI-MONTALCINI

In Praise of Imperfection
by Rita Levi-Montalcini

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CICELY SAUNDERS

Cicely Saunders
by David Clark

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SOPHIA JEX-BLAKE

Sophia Jex-Blake
by Shirley Roberts

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MARY EDWARDS WALKER

Mary Edwards Walker
by Dale L. Walker

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ELIZABETH GARRETT ANDERSON

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
by Jo Manton

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ELIZABETH BLACKWELL

Elizabeth Blackwell
by Nancy Kline

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JAMES BARRY

Dr James Barry
by Michael du Preez and Jeremy Dronfield

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So stay tuned as we begin this weekend with Frances Kelsey

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