Women in medicine: the changing pattern over the past 50 years

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 02 December 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1324
  1. Vivian Edwards, retired medical officer
  1. Fort Rise, Newhaven Harbour, East Sussex

    The attitude to women in medicine has radically changed over the years. I qualified in the mid 1950s, having previously gained state registration in nursing.

    While a schoolgirl, I had seen so many sixth form girls being rejected for medical training, so I decided to take up nursing. After qualification, still dreaming about medicine, I sought an interview with matron to say that I had decided to apply for a place at medical school. Anger was expressed. She gave no support. Luckily I was offered an interview at a London teaching hospital. The candidates were mainly men.

    During my interview, the basic contents of matron's reference were revealed. They were damning. Eventually the dean asked where I would live during training. I replied that, for financial reasons, I would remain in my parent's suburb home; I was told that rail travel would limit the time I could spend on studying. I was questioned about my marital status, whether I was still unattached. I was …

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