2013 | Volume 4 (2013) | 69-91
Article title

„Medycynierki, medyczki, lekarki” – dyskryminacja naukowa i zawodowa kobiet‑lekarek w wybranych państwach europejskich oraz USA w XIX wieku

Title variants
„Female‑mediciners, female‑medicos, female‑doctors” – educational and professional discrimination of female doctors in selected European countries and the United States in the 19th century
Languages of publication
Until the 19th century woman’s role in the family and in the society was clearly defined – she was to be a housekeeper, a mother and a wife to her husband. As a result, her education and upbringing aimed at preparing her to perform these roles. However, in the 19th century women decided to break the stereotype and more often and more willingly, took up steps which allowed them to gain a specific profession, thus becoming independent (especially financially) from their husbands. The suffragists of the times were particularly interested in medicine and doctor or nurse professions, which not only aroused discontent among men (not just doctors) but was also perceived scandalous. It was proved by numerous press discussions on this topic, discriminating system of higher education recruitment, as well as peculiar professional ostracism of „female‑mediciners” or „female‑medicos” as they were maliciously called. With time, thanks to determination of the feminist heroines including Poutret de Manchamps, Louise Otto, or Emily Wüstenfels universities in France and in German countries slowly began to open their doors to women. It also happened in Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Scandinavia and the United States (the example of two sisters Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell). Women in had the greatest number of obstacles overcome, which is testified by the fate of Jessie Meriton White and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first English female doctor. In countries where access to medical faculties was open only to men, women candidates went abroad to acquire education and then came back (though not always) to their homeland. Such was the story of the Russian Nadezhda Prokofiewna Suslov, recognized as the first doctor with a PhD title in Europe, who received doctor of medicine degree in Zurich in 1867. At the beginning of the twentieth century Polish women acted alike, e.g. Maria Elizabeth Zakrzewska or Melania Lipińska and many others. It is worth noting that in their fight for equality of rights, women had to accept some compromise. And so, in order not to compete with men, they were educated as specialists in women’s and children’s diseases, responding to more and more visible demand in the society. In addition, with help from patrons and sponsors, they founded schools for girls, thus putting into practice male postulate of single‑sex education.
Physical description
  • Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego, ul. Wita Stwosza 55 80-952 Gdańsk, Poland
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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