Medical Women at War, 1914-1918

TitleMedical Women at War, 1914-1918
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsLeneman, Leah
JournalMedical History
Date Published04/1994

Women had a long and difficult struggle before they were allowed to obtain a medical education. Even in 1914 the Royal Free was the only London teaching hospital to admit them and some universities (including Oxford and Cambridge) still held out against them. The cost of a medical education continued to be a major obstacle, but at least there were enough schools by then to ensure that British women who wanted and could afford one could get it. The difficulty was in finding residency posts after qualifying, in order to make a career in hospital medicine. Few posts were available outside the handful of all-women hospitals, and medical women were channelled away from the more prestigious specialities--notably general surgery--into those less highly regarded, like gynaecology and obstetrics, and into asylums, dispensaries, public health, and, of course, general practice. This article examines the experiences of British medical women in the war zone during World War I, their later careers, and whether their war experiences had any later effect on the position of women in medicine. 

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