Health Professions


Beginning in the early 1970s there was a dramatic increase in the proportion of women admitted to medical schools in the United States. The previous low representation of women in medicine most likely was the result of a number of factors, chief among them negative social attitudes toward women becoming physicians. Sex-role socialization and stereotyping certainly played a significant role in discouraging women from pursuing careers not only in medicine but also in professions such as law, engineering, and business management. Discriminatory medical school admission policies, quotas, and a male-dominated medical establishment hostile to women have also been cited as causes of women’s previous exclusion from medicine.

However, despite the societal obstacles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a small but determined number of women did enter medical school. Single and coeducational medical schools in Missouri and throughout the United States provided the opportunity for these inspirational female pioneers to fulfill their dreams of a career in medicine.

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