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Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine

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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 perf 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.


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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 perf 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.

30 review for Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Campbell

    I think I wrote a good book!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Excellent look at the struggle of the first women doctors I loved this book. It is written in a conversational tone and I found the book inspirational. Although there is some medical information in the book, the book is more about the women’s struggles. However, what medicine is discussed is explained very clearly. The book covers the contemporaneous social and political situations that makes for fascinating reading. Indeed, the book reads more like a novel than nonfiction. I recommend this book Excellent look at the struggle of the first women doctors I loved this book. It is written in a conversational tone and I found the book inspirational. Although there is some medical information in the book, the book is more about the women’s struggles. However, what medicine is discussed is explained very clearly. The book covers the contemporaneous social and political situations that makes for fascinating reading. Indeed, the book reads more like a novel than nonfiction. I recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of medicine or in the stories of women who spearheaded the movement to establish women as doctors. Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book via Edelweiss for review purposes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    4.25 stars This is mainly a biography of three of the first women doctors in the mid- to late-19th century, but also a history of the fight for the right of women to become doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman in the US to earn an MD, in the mid-1800s. It took a while longer, but Lizzie Garret was the first in England. Sophia Jax-Blake was not immediately next in the UK, but she worked hard fighting for the right of women to be able to earn that designation; she did get her MD later s 4.25 stars This is mainly a biography of three of the first women doctors in the mid- to late-19th century, but also a history of the fight for the right of women to become doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman in the US to earn an MD, in the mid-1800s. It took a while longer, but Lizzie Garret was the first in England. Sophia Jax-Blake was not immediately next in the UK, but she worked hard fighting for the right of women to be able to earn that designation; she did get her MD later s well, but she also helped start up two women’s medical schools – in London and Edinburgh. Every step of the way took months and years of hard work for these women to be able to earn that MD. With the stereotypes and fears of male doctors, professors, and medical students pushing back with excuses to deny them this. Before the women’s schools were set up, these women had to take classes (many privately, and at a much higher cost), as well as find a placement for clinical practice to gain that experience; very very difficult to do when most hospitals continually turned them down. There were some male doctors (and professors) who were sympathetic and did help out as much as they could. I’ve left out so much of the struggles! This book is nonfiction, but it reads like fiction. Very readable. Oh, the frustration, though, at the male students, doctors, and professors! They call the women “delicate” and such, but as far as I can tell, the men were the “delicate” ones with their temper tantrums (the phrase entered my head even before she used it in the book!), not able to handle that there are women just as smart and can do the job just as well as they (possibly) could (although I do wonder about some of those men!). And these men were supposed to be trusted to tend to women’s health issues!? Ugh! (Many women at the time avoided, if possible, seeing male doctors for their ailments.) Many of the women students had better grades than the men, but of course, were never really acknowledged for it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book via Goodreads giveaway. This is an excellent read for anyone looking to gain a perspective on what it was like to be a female seeking a medical degree (or any college level education) in the 1800s. It's mind-blowing to read about the misogynistic opinions of most men (and even some women) during this time. Apparently women were too weak both mentally and physically to be allowed to obtain a medical degree. However, the three prominent women discussed in Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book via Goodreads giveaway. This is an excellent read for anyone looking to gain a perspective on what it was like to be a female seeking a medical degree (or any college level education) in the 1800s. It's mind-blowing to read about the misogynistic opinions of most men (and even some women) during this time. Apparently women were too weak both mentally and physically to be allowed to obtain a medical degree. However, the three prominent women discussed in this book, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and Sophia Jex-Blake, never backed down. As a female, it was very inspiring for me to read about these truly brave women. I'm so thankful for these women. Without them, I may not have the option to attend college at all. I'm also very impressed at the extensive research Olivia Campbell must have done in order to complete this book. It is written in a fascinating way and never gets boring.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Want a richly told acccount of the intelligent, brave, and determined women who forced open the door for women in medicine. Librarians/booksellers: Women's history continues to be quite popular; having a medical history angle adds to the appeal for many readers. A strong purchase. Many thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review. Read if you: Want a richly told acccount of the intelligent, brave, and determined women who forced open the door for women in medicine. Librarians/booksellers: Women's history continues to be quite popular; having a medical history angle adds to the appeal for many readers. A strong purchase. Many thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Thank you to NetGalley and Park Row for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review Women in White Coats tells of the struggles of the first women in America and the UK to obtain medical degrees and be seen as serious medical professionals. While it seemed to me that the author occasionally went off on unnecessary tangents, this book is very readable for a piece of non-fiction and tells a gripping story while also imparting a lot of information. Although about the medical Thank you to NetGalley and Park Row for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review Women in White Coats tells of the struggles of the first women in America and the UK to obtain medical degrees and be seen as serious medical professionals. While it seemed to me that the author occasionally went off on unnecessary tangents, this book is very readable for a piece of non-fiction and tells a gripping story while also imparting a lot of information. Although about the medical field, this book is as much about Victorian social customs and morality as it is about medicine. Women had to struggle against a patriarchal society to obtain medical degrees that were seen as valid and equal to the ones that men could receive. These pioneering women not only changed medicine—giving female patients female physicians that they could better relate to—but also set a president for all women to gain access to any means of higher education. This is an interesting and insightful work about the perseverance of women fighting for equal rights to education and access to professional disciplines.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Fascinating and engaging. This is the history of three Victorian women and their journey to open the doors to becoming doctors not only for themselves but for women of the future. Many of these women were instrumental in developing the attributes of the modern day medical school in the United States including clinical practice. These driven and intelligent women overcame so many obstacles including a male dominated industry and society norms which barred their access to becoming medical doctors. Fascinating and engaging. This is the history of three Victorian women and their journey to open the doors to becoming doctors not only for themselves but for women of the future. Many of these women were instrumental in developing the attributes of the modern day medical school in the United States including clinical practice. These driven and intelligent women overcame so many obstacles including a male dominated industry and society norms which barred their access to becoming medical doctors. They were also instrumental in providing medical care for women by women. Yes, women feel connected and understood by another woman when they want to discuss women's issues! Told in a beautiful narrative style that kept me reading. I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: December 6, 2020 Publication date: March 2, 2021 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from Date reviewed/posted: December 6, 2020 Publication date: March 2, 2021 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. 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 1900s, 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, Lizzie Garret Anderson and Sophie 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. I did a project in grade 5 on Elizabeth Blackwell so this book was a must-read for me. I am not a feminist but I enjoyed seeing what these women had to go through to be doctors. It is an enjoyable book that I will recommend to patrons, friends and book clubs alike as it is well written and researched and at no time boring, dry or dusty. Overall, an amazing read whether you are a feminist or not...why I am NOT one is a long, boring story. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🏥🏥🏥🏥🏥

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    2.5 stars I have mixed feelings about this book, which has a fascinating topic, women breaking into the medical profession in the 19th century U.S. and U.K., but which is not particularly well-written or well-sourced. This is a group biography of three medical pioneers: Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the U.S. to earn an M.D. (in 1849); Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman in the U.K. to do likewise (more than a decade later); and Sophia Jex-Blake, another British woman who became a 2.5 stars I have mixed feelings about this book, which has a fascinating topic, women breaking into the medical profession in the 19th century U.S. and U.K., but which is not particularly well-written or well-sourced. This is a group biography of three medical pioneers: Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the U.S. to earn an M.D. (in 1849); Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman in the U.K. to do likewise (more than a decade later); and Sophia Jex-Blake, another British woman who became a doctor not long afterwards, fought for women’s education and founded multiple medical schools for women. Importantly, despite its subtitle, the book itself makes clear that these ladies were in no way the “first female doctors”: women have always treated the sick and wounded, and even within the narrow bounds of this book’s scope (the U.S. and U.K. in the 19th century), these women weren’t actually the first. See, for example, Martha Ballard and many like her, who functioned as doctors to the women and children of their community, though they had no formal training and were typically referred to as midwives; James Barry aka Margaret Bulkley, who disguised herself as a man beginning in the 1810s in order to obtain medical education and postings; and Harriot Hunt, who apprenticed as a doctor and opened a Boston practice in the 1830s without a medical license—which was actually perfectly acceptable at the time. The American Medical Association wasn’t even founded until 1847. What set Blackwell, Garrett Anderson and Jex-Blake apart was that they specifically wanted to prove what women could do, obtain all available academic credentials in their fields, and open paths for other women to follow. (Blackwell specifically turned down a suggestion that she obtain a degree by going abroad in male disguise; nor did she pursue apprenticeship in lieu of a degree, though the author posits that one would have been easily available to her.) Money was not a pressing concern for them, and in fact none seem to have had a passion for medicine before settling on it as a worthy career path and opportunity to be trailblazers. All seem to have found it fascinating once they began, though they struggled to find schools willing to admit them, obtain licensure, and keep medical practices going in the face of widespread sexism. At any rate, this book is a very informative look into the battles these women and their contemporaries had to fight for education and recognition, as well as into their lives and personalities. They were quite different from one another—Blackwell and Garrett Anderson were very focused on being good examples, while Jex-Blake was louder and more impulsive—and had very different personal lives: Blackwell remained single (seeming to see her attraction to men as something she needed to defeat) and adopted a young girl; Garrett Anderson married a man and had children (you can read about her daughter, also a surgeon, in the recent No Man's Land); and Jex-Blake found romantic partners in other women. While they all struggled to get an education, surprisingly this was much easier for the two pioneers. The “exceptional woman” whose existence, by virtue of the fact that she’s exceptional, doesn’t threaten the establishment, is very much in evidence here: men weren’t nearly as disturbed by one woman obtaining a medical license (especially if they could close the door after her) as by an entire cohort trying to do the same. Jex-Blake and her colleagues in Edinburgh faced actual riots from male students and locals at their medical school, and the same happened to groups of female medical students in the U.S.—which never happened to Blackwell or Garrett Anderson when they showed up alone. That said, while I appreciated the information this book provided, the writing style is often clunky, conversational in a way that comes across as lacking in copyediting, and tends toward editorializing. For instance, Campbell frequently refers to male doctors freaking out at the idea of women entering the profession as “throwing tantrums”—perhaps not unfair and I get throwing back at men infantilizing language often used against women, but I tend to prefer my writing a bit less openly partisan. Also, the citation style is awful: citations aren’t linked to either page numbers or endnote numbers and so while they are there, it’s needlessly difficult to find the one you’re looking for. Some of the citations also raised my eyebrows: Wikipedia is one, as is Quackery, a humorous history for the general public which itself doesn’t cite any sources. So it definitely has a rah-rah-girl-power tone, at the same time as treating her subjects a bit like, well, girls. Campbell is so committed to always referring to every women mentioned by her first name that, given two named Elizabeth, she calls Garrett Anderson “Lizzie” throughout. It's even stranger when applied to women who aren't prominent subjects (nevertheless Florence Nightengale is “Florence” and I struggled a bit in the sea of Marys, Maries, etc.). Meanwhile, she refers to men by their last names or as “Dr.” She doesn’t address the reasons for this, and it sits uneasily beside outrage at the lack of respect shown these women. The book also tends toward oversimplifying, with many of its side issues not seeming well-researched. For instance, Campbell confidently asserts that J. Marion Sims (considered the father of modern gynecology) used anesthesia on white women but not black women, when there seems to be good historical evidence that he didn’t believe in anesthesia at all and particularly not when it was new, and she implies he performed experimental surgeries on healthy slave women rather than those who actually needed it. As with much of what she says, Campbell has a point—Sims’s choice of slaves for his experimental subjects was exploitative and based in racist beliefs—but she perhaps oversells it. That said, I’m rounding up to three stars because I hadn’t read about these women before and I’m very glad that I did. This book makes for a decent biography of them as well as history of women trying to obtain medical training in these two countries generally, with many of their contemporaries also briefly discussed. My opinion might change after reading other books on the subject: The Doctors Blackwell (about Elizabeth and younger sister Emily) is on my list to read soon.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Well written for the most part, if a bit dense and not flowing well in places. The stories of these women are detailed with both their personal and professional lives, with the former focused mostly on what led the women to decide to become doctors.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Women as trailblazers, No obstacles could stop them. History changed by women, we need to learn this history. Everyone needs to know and appreciate women's contributions to the medical world. MANY have benefited! Women as trailblazers, No obstacles could stop them. History changed by women, we need to learn this history. Everyone needs to know and appreciate women's contributions to the medical world. MANY have benefited!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    There's one quote that stands out from the many others in this marvelous book about the first women doctors. "A woman must have uncommon sweetness of disposition and manners to be forgiven for possessing superior talents and acquirements" (Elizabeth Smith). Indeed, a familiar refrain echoes that well-behaved women seldom make history but readers are really probably looking for ladies who likely adhere to societal norms of femininity rather than the opposite. Three women emerge during the Victori There's one quote that stands out from the many others in this marvelous book about the first women doctors. "A woman must have uncommon sweetness of disposition and manners to be forgiven for possessing superior talents and acquirements" (Elizabeth Smith). Indeed, a familiar refrain echoes that well-behaved women seldom make history but readers are really probably looking for ladies who likely adhere to societal norms of femininity rather than the opposite. Three women emerge during the Victorian Era in the early 1800s to forge a path to give women the opportunity to become doctors in the completely male dominated practice of medicine. Driven by ambition and a desire to achieve dreams for career and independence beyond was was available for women at the time, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake pursue extremely difficult challenges in their quest. I've always been interested in health, disease, and medicine. I grew up in a large household with my father, a family physician, and my mother, a registered nurse, very open and knowledgeable about those subjects. One of the first books I read as a child was The First Woman Doctor: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D. (Scholastic Biography) by Rachel Baker published in 1972. Although highly motivated, I did not become a doctor after all, but spent 42 years as a registered nurse and watched women become more prominent in medicine and surgery. Reading this book gave me fits as I realized all of the obstacles that those first women doctors had to go through to get their education and to receive their MD registry. It's laughable and maddening how hard the male students, other physicians, and professors worked to keep women out of the universities and prevent them from receiving the training. How scared the men must have been to think that their whole superiority was based on nothing but the delusions of their own minds. The fact that these pioneers kept going in the face of it all is truly worth admiration and we who now benefit by having so many wonder female doctors need to be reminded of these trailblazers. The writing was extremely detailed and the author does jump around a bit in time and place, but it was a very interesting read in the Biographies & Memoirs | History genre. I chose this to celebrate Women's History Month as I wanted to appreciate the accomplishments of these women who truly have made a difference in health care. I'll end with these quotes to give you more to think about: "Recent research shows women may actually be better doctors. They are more likely to follow clinical guidelines and provide preventive care than their male counterparts." It's interesting that in 2017, in the US for the first time ever, there were more medical students that were female than male. "What a glorious rebuke to all those nasty Victorian nay-sayers who claimed women were entirely unfit to practice medicine." Thank you to NetGalley and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) Park Row for this e-book ARC to read, review, and recommend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    Although not particularly interested in the medical field myself, I was quite excited to learn about the first women who worked as doctors. A point of clarification that is never really addressed is that this is not the history of the first female doctors anywhere, but rather some of the first in the US and UK. A quick search turns up the first female MD a century before the subjects of these books, as well as contemporaries in less Anglo countries. The three women focused on the book did lead i Although not particularly interested in the medical field myself, I was quite excited to learn about the first women who worked as doctors. A point of clarification that is never really addressed is that this is not the history of the first female doctors anywhere, but rather some of the first in the US and UK. A quick search turns up the first female MD a century before the subjects of these books, as well as contemporaries in less Anglo countries. The three women focused on the book did lead interesting lives with an enormous amount of hardship they had to persist through to pursue their education and careers and pave the way for future female doctors. A surprisingly unaddressed subject in the book was the significant role these women's' race and class played in their ability to achieve what they did. The jumping from character to character, with the introduction of many other related subjects, made the book hard for me to follow at times. I certainly learned a lot, although I don't know that I'd feel compelled to recommend this book to others. 2.5 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    This was a pretty fascinating account of early women trying to break into the male-dominated world of “professional” medicine. It was often infuriating (as injustice, prejudice, and sexism are), but also intriguing. The mentions and brief descriptions of medical treatment and knowledge during the late 1800s were great reminders of how far we’ve come. And the petulant, immature actions of those trying to keep women out of the field were a great reminder of how far we haven’t come. I often found my This was a pretty fascinating account of early women trying to break into the male-dominated world of “professional” medicine. It was often infuriating (as injustice, prejudice, and sexism are), but also intriguing. The mentions and brief descriptions of medical treatment and knowledge during the late 1800s were great reminders of how far we’ve come. And the petulant, immature actions of those trying to keep women out of the field were a great reminder of how far we haven’t come. I often found my engagement waning, but wanted to read the entire book and follow the lives of these women through to the end. overall it did a fine job of tying together various overlapping timelines and stories, and I think it’s an important and interesting history to look at. (2.5 stars rounded up to 3)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melody Schreiber

    I cannot wait for this book!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy Adams

    This book follows three women as case studies to discuss the history of women doctors and how they were and were not able to start obtaining medical degrees (the fight against them was fierce) but how the began multiple medical schools for women while they were in pursuit of their own degrees. The book starts in the mid-1800s and it’s important to note that women in all of medicine is not the purpose of this book but only female doctors. Nursing and midwifery are discussed but are clearly meant This book follows three women as case studies to discuss the history of women doctors and how they were and were not able to start obtaining medical degrees (the fight against them was fierce) but how the began multiple medical schools for women while they were in pursuit of their own degrees. The book starts in the mid-1800s and it’s important to note that women in all of medicine is not the purpose of this book but only female doctors. Nursing and midwifery are discussed but are clearly meant as an insult historically (not necessarily from the author but mindsets of the past). Those positions were much more minor than they are today, and obstetrics/gynecology was not considered real medicine. So while we may see the importance of women’s health today, it was considered of less importance at the time where “only a midwife” is necessary. Women were not believed to be smart enough or strong enough (physically or mentally) to handle what it took to be a doctor or surgeon. It was also incorrectly thought that many women only wanted to be doctors in order to be abortionists. Besides, how could they ever be a doctor and a wife? It seems many had forgotten that women had been working in the home and also contributing to finances “for eons.” But these women fought in the US and UK to make the study and practice of medicine possible for women. Overall, the book is really interesting, well researched and written. Thankfully we’ve come a long way in women’s medicine, education and career-wise as well as for the patients.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Darshini

    I partly feel ashamed I had not read this book earlier. How for granted had I taken what we have? How naive of us to assume that what seems so perfectly obvious and logical (and is a fundamental right!) would drop on our plate and not require generations of relentless struggle. Incited by personal loss and resentment over inadequate medical care, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Sophia Jex-Blake and many others fought for a woman's place in the male-dominated medical field. "Wome I partly feel ashamed I had not read this book earlier. How for granted had I taken what we have? How naive of us to assume that what seems so perfectly obvious and logical (and is a fundamental right!) would drop on our plate and not require generations of relentless struggle. Incited by personal loss and resentment over inadequate medical care, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Sophia Jex-Blake and many others fought for a woman's place in the male-dominated medical field. "Women in White Coats" narrates the complete history of these pioneers who, despite those endless obstacles, earned medical degrees and paved the way for other women to do the same. There were sections of the book that literally had me crying out in sheer distaste of some baseless assumptions people of the time held. Well-researched and captivating, the book gives us a near-complete overview of the situation then. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the history of research and medicine or simply anyone seeking inspiration. Actually, strike that. You must read this! Instagram: @the_untitled_journal

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lianna

    This was the first non-fiction book I've read for joy, not for school or academic reasons. And this one was just wonderful! This follows (mainly) three women in the late 19th century as they go against the American and British patriarchal medical culture to become the first female doctors. They were the trailblazers for female doctors everywhere, and their stories were filled with so many obstacles and hurdles they had to overcome to follow their dreams. I felt that Olivia Campbell did a great jo This was the first non-fiction book I've read for joy, not for school or academic reasons. And this one was just wonderful! This follows (mainly) three women in the late 19th century as they go against the American and British patriarchal medical culture to become the first female doctors. They were the trailblazers for female doctors everywhere, and their stories were filled with so many obstacles and hurdles they had to overcome to follow their dreams. I felt that Olivia Campbell did a great job writing the histories of these women, putting everything in (mostly) chronological order, and presenting a wonderful image of these complex women. It didn't feel like I was reading historical facts, it truly felt like I was right there next to those women experiencing the same things with them. That right there is some great storytelling. I also really appreciated how she didn't just stick to these women, she also delved into the future ramifications and impacts these women had on the medical field years later.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    In this nonfiction historical book we learn about three women, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake. These women were the first women to become medical doctors by attending predominately male colleges in the mid to late 1800s. Not only did the women face difficulties just getting into these institutions, but once they were able to get into these classes, they were often harassed. This was a part of history I knew little about, and I found it really interesting lea In this nonfiction historical book we learn about three women, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake. These women were the first women to become medical doctors by attending predominately male colleges in the mid to late 1800s. Not only did the women face difficulties just getting into these institutions, but once they were able to get into these classes, they were often harassed. This was a part of history I knew little about, and I found it really interesting learning about. The women faced such ridiculous obstacles to obtain a medical degree. Sometimes it took decades and other times there was a fluke in the system they were able to take advantage of. These women were incredibly privileged, they came from wealthy families and were able to afford tutors and the best money could buy as far as education goes. Only these women would have been able to pursue getting these degrees. This was an aspect I wished was explored more in this book. I loved learning about these women's lives but I wish there was more context discerned on how class, race and familial connection played a role in these women's successes. The women's stories were easy to follow and the writing was plainly written. I enjoyed the audiobook narrator and found the more narrative writing style easy to consume. If you love learning about women's history I would recommend this book. Although I would seek additional books to learn about marginalized women who were also the first in their medical fields.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    This book is an accessible biography of three Victorian female physicians and their struggle to open the world of formal medical education and certification to women in the United States and England. I say accessible because you don't need any specialized knowledge of medicine or Victorian history to understand the content. The author fills in the relevant details sufficiently. It was a lot less dense than some of the other history books I've read; it's definitely designed for a general audience This book is an accessible biography of three Victorian female physicians and their struggle to open the world of formal medical education and certification to women in the United States and England. I say accessible because you don't need any specialized knowledge of medicine or Victorian history to understand the content. The author fills in the relevant details sufficiently. It was a lot less dense than some of the other history books I've read; it's definitely designed for a general audience, which is not a bad thing if it makes history more accessible. I think the thing that rubbed me slightly the wrong way was the overall bias in favor of the women, to the extent that, for example, Elizabeth Blackwell's advocation of eugenics is collapsed down to a brief mention in a single paragraph. The author clearly wants these women to be the heroes here, and of course they are. But the overall tone tends more toward cheerleading than making an objective case. Still, I learned some things, I enjoyed it, and I would watch the hell out of an HBO limited series about these women.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sapna

    I loved reading about the history of women in medicine- as so much of it is what we take granted today, and so many of the struggles are still being faced today! In the 1800's, there were no women doctors because women were not allowed to study medicine: they were considered too weak, feeble, and frail to study such a complex and difficult subject. Women had to see male doctors for their health issues, only to be told that many of their issues were products of hysteria, or superficial. With my o I loved reading about the history of women in medicine- as so much of it is what we take granted today, and so many of the struggles are still being faced today! In the 1800's, there were no women doctors because women were not allowed to study medicine: they were considered too weak, feeble, and frail to study such a complex and difficult subject. Women had to see male doctors for their health issues, only to be told that many of their issues were products of hysteria, or superficial. With my older daughter getting her MD degree this year, training to be an OB/Gyn, I thought this was the perfect book to read, as issues in women's health have really been better understood thanks to these pioneering women in white coats! This was a very well written work of non-fiction that read like a story being told.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    This is an historic account of the three women who became the first women doctors of medicine, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sofia Jex-Blake. Because of their persistence and drive, women are now an essential and well respected part of medical science. These women opened the doors to all future women, having been opposed by well renowned doctors, such as Dr. Joseph Lister, who vehemently worked to stop women from entering medical school. An eye opening account of their live This is an historic account of the three women who became the first women doctors of medicine, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sofia Jex-Blake. Because of their persistence and drive, women are now an essential and well respected part of medical science. These women opened the doors to all future women, having been opposed by well renowned doctors, such as Dr. Joseph Lister, who vehemently worked to stop women from entering medical school. An eye opening account of their lives. ERs informative.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth Slucher

    Wow! These women persevered. In some ways, people still see women in the same way. Those who break new ground acting like a lady are heralded, although their routes are often closed to women wo come after them. Women who ask questions and question authority are still looked down on, although they make news. Thank goodness we have women physicians for many, many reasons - the statistics at the end of the book are encouraging. I would have loved to see some photos, too. Good work and great researc Wow! These women persevered. In some ways, people still see women in the same way. Those who break new ground acting like a lady are heralded, although their routes are often closed to women wo come after them. Women who ask questions and question authority are still looked down on, although they make news. Thank goodness we have women physicians for many, many reasons - the statistics at the end of the book are encouraging. I would have loved to see some photos, too. Good work and great research, Olivia Campbell!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kory Keller

    This was an interesting book that detailed the struggle of the first women both in the US and Europe to become physicians and surgeons. The open hostility of all the medical groups and major journals was a bit horrifying to read as well as the historical care of women which was delivered by men without looking under their garment. One of the atrocities that I have trouble getting out of my mind (and now you won’t be able to get out of your mind), is the speculum specifically designed for introdu This was an interesting book that detailed the struggle of the first women both in the US and Europe to become physicians and surgeons. The open hostility of all the medical groups and major journals was a bit horrifying to read as well as the historical care of women which was delivered by men without looking under their garment. One of the atrocities that I have trouble getting out of my mind (and now you won’t be able to get out of your mind), is the speculum specifically designed for introducing leeches to the cervix.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy K

    I listened to the audio version, which is probably the way to go with this one. The narrarator did a great job. This is a fanacating story of some of the first female doctors, the challenges they faced, the evolution of medicine and of the women practicing the oldest profession of prostitution. It's hard to believe there was such little faith in women's abilities and how far society has come, but still has to go. This did start to fizzle out for me towards the end, but it's well worth the time t I listened to the audio version, which is probably the way to go with this one. The narrarator did a great job. This is a fanacating story of some of the first female doctors, the challenges they faced, the evolution of medicine and of the women practicing the oldest profession of prostitution. It's hard to believe there was such little faith in women's abilities and how far society has come, but still has to go. This did start to fizzle out for me towards the end, but it's well worth the time to listen to or read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    This non-fiction book details the lives of three early women doctors and their accomplishments, both personally and professionally. The medical terminology is minimal and easy for a non-medical person to understand. The book is entertainingly written for non-fiction and very enlightening about the challenges women faced in that field in the early days. If you enjoy medically-related reading, you’ll enjoy this book. 4.5/5 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    An enlightening biography of three pioneering Victorian-era women, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake, who overcame considerable obstacles to be among the first women in the male-dominated medical field. In addition to paving the way for other women to earn medical degrees, these physicians built women-run hospitals and teaching colleges, creating for the first time medical care for women by women.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jynx Jenkins

    I was looking for some inspiring, real world stories of women on the frontier of medicine. Instead I got the "See Dick and Jane" version of a tidy and skimmed history. Might as well have read, "...and then Elizabeth went to medical school. See Elizabeth study! Good job, Elizabeth." There are some very compelling books about male physicians of the same period. Too bad this book rivals none of them. I was looking for some inspiring, real world stories of women on the frontier of medicine. Instead I got the "See Dick and Jane" version of a tidy and skimmed history. Might as well have read, "...and then Elizabeth went to medical school. See Elizabeth study! Good job, Elizabeth." There are some very compelling books about male physicians of the same period. Too bad this book rivals none of them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I liked this book. But I did not love it. To be clear, I am not reviewing the people described, but the book it self. The women who are the subjects of this book were amazing women and should continued to be viewed as such. That being said, the writing of this book was a bit dry and hard to follow. The author had a tendency to go on tangents about side characters that did not really contribute to the story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ericka Jade

    I listened to the audio version and found the narrator well suited for this book. The book goes into the lives of several pioneering women physicians. The style goes though the schooling and professional lives of the women but at first, caused a little confusion. This is probably due to it being an audiobook. After a while I got the hang of the book and it was easier to follow. This was a very interesting and caused me to look up more information on the women.

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