Women in white coats : how the first women doctors changed the world of medicine

by Campbell, Olivia,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 9 Libraries 9 of 12 copies
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For fans of Hidden Figures and Radium Girls comes the remarkable story of three Victorian women who broke down barriers in the medical field to become the first women doctors, revolutionizing the way women receive health care.

In the early 1800s, women were dying in large numbers from treatable diseases because they avoided receiving medical care. Examinations performed by male doctors were often demeaning and even painful. In addition, women faced stigma from illness--a diagnosis could greatly limit their ability to find husbands, jobs or be received in polite society.

Motivated by personal loss and frustration over inadequate medical care, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake fought for a woman's place in the male-dominated medical field. For the first time ever, Women in White Coats tells the complete history of these three pioneering women who, despite countless obstacles, earned medical degrees and paved the way for other women to do the same. Though very different in personality and circumstance, together these women built women-run hospitals and teaching colleges--creating for the first time medical care for women by women.

With gripping storytelling based on extensive research and access to archival documents, Women in White Coats tells the courageous history these women made by becoming doctors, detailing the boundaries they broke of gender and science to reshape how we receive medical care today.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Veteran journalist Campbell knows how to use show-don't-tell details to chronicle the history of female physicians. Women now outnumber men in U.S. medical schools, but they couldn't even get into them in 1847. That first woman student, Elizabeth Blackwell, endured ridicule, but at least no one was trying to burn her at the stake, the fate of medieval women healers branded as witches. After she earned her MD, Elizabeth headed to Paris, the center of medical innovation, where she befriended Florence Nightingale and wound up with a glass eye that ended her dream of becoming a surgeon. Campbell also vividly portrays other pioneers, such as Lizzie Garrett (a "dainty, demure, dutiful wife and mother") and Sophia Jex-Blake ("an outspoken, heavy-set lesbian who struggled with a short temper"), who prevailed at a time when male doctors applied the word hysteria (from the Greek word for "uterus") to any woman whose condition eluded them. Nonetheless, women became the driving force behind medical advances, from X-rays to Pap smears, and today patients operated on by women physicians are less likely to die."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Journalist Campbell debuts with an inspirational group portrait of the first three women who became licensed doctors in the U.S. and the U.K. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821--1910), the first woman to be accepted to an American medical school, got in because the male students who voted for her admittance thought her application was a joke. British physician Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836--1917) worked as a surgical nurse and studied with private tutors to pass the medical licensing exam, and cofounded the first hospital staffed by women. Sophia Jex-Blake (1840--1912) became the first practicing female doctor in Scotland. Though women had always served their communities and families as healers, Campbell writes, "when medicine began to be solidified as a profession... patriarchal control swept in." She delves into her subjects' love lives and family relationships; documents their battles against sexist school administrators and professors, including pioneering surgeon Joseph Lister; and notes their support for one another as well as their differences of opinion. At times, Campbell makes it sound as if her subjects were pledging a sorority rather than entering a profession, but her extensive research and lucid writing about medical matters impress. This entertaining account adds a valuable chapter to the history of women and medicine. Agent: Zoe Sandler, ICM Partners. (Mar.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Blackwell, Elizabeth, -- 1821-1910.
Anderson, Elizabeth Garrett, -- 1836-1917.
Jex-Blake, Sophia, -- 1840-1912.
Women physicians -- Great Britain -- Biography.
Medicine -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
Publisher Toronto, Ontario, Canada :2021
Language English
Description 361 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 309-311) and index.
ISBN 9780778389392
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