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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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🏥🏥🏥🏥🏥

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melody Schreiber

    I cannot wait for this book!!!

  8. 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.

  9. 5 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

  10. 5 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.

  11. 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)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    review to come ...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bookclubbish

    Categories Medical Biographies & Autobiographies, Biographies & Autobiographies of Women, Historical Biographies & Autobiographies, Women History

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anugya Agrawal

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    Julie

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  18. 5 out of 5

    Jill H

  19. 4 out of 5

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  20. 5 out of 5

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  21. 4 out of 5

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  23. 5 out of 5

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  24. 4 out of 5

    Paige Bishop

  25. 5 out of 5

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  26. 4 out of 5

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  27. 4 out of 5

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  28. 4 out of 5

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  29. 4 out of 5

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  30. 4 out of 5

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  31. 4 out of 5

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  32. 4 out of 5

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  34. 5 out of 5

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  35. 5 out of 5

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  36. 4 out of 5

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  37. 5 out of 5

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  39. 5 out of 5

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  40. 5 out of 5

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  42. 5 out of 5

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  43. 4 out of 5

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  44. 4 out of 5

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  45. 5 out of 5

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  46. 4 out of 5

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  47. 5 out of 5

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  48. 5 out of 5

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  49. 4 out of 5

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  50. 4 out of 5

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  51. 5 out of 5

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  52. 5 out of 5

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  53. 4 out of 5

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  54. 4 out of 5

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  55. 4 out of 5

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  56. 4 out of 5

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  57. 5 out of 5

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