women in medicine
Our school often has lunch lectures/talks where we get fed and learn something that’s not necessarily required/included in our curriculum. About a week and a half ago, one of my favorite professors gave a lecture on “Women in Medicine.”
Here are a couple highlights that jumped out at me:
- In the 17th century, society (aka men) thought that female brains were too “soft + cold” to think.
- In the 18th century, they thought female craniums were too small to give us the capacity to think.
- In the 19th century, they believed that exercise would “cause our brains to atrophy.”
I’d like to think we’ve come a long way, but there’s always room for improvement, especially because this was pretty upsetting to me.
On a related note, I think Agnodice was a total badass. She was apparently the first female Athenian physician and attended medical school disguised as a man. She practiced for a while still disguised as a man, but revealed her gender to a patient who refused a male physician and became a really popular physician for all the women in the city. The city got suspicious about her popularity (they thought “he” was seducing “his” patients), but she ended up getting into even more trouble when they found out she wasn’t actually a man (apparently, it was more acceptable to seduce your patients than to be a woman). They wanted to execute her, but the women of the city came to her trial to praise her awesomeness as a physician and yell at their husbands for being stupid. They ended up letting her go (and changed their laws to allow females to be phsyicians :).
Other food for thought–if you ever have spare time, Something The Lord Made is a great film. They don’t go into as much detail about how amazing Helen Taussig is in there, but she’s basically the founder of pediatric cardiology and developed the procedure to help extend the lives of babies with Tetralogy of Fallot (right to left shunt! pulmonary stenosis! overriding aorta! ventricular septal defect! right ventricular hypertrophy!).