Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews The Bigger Picture

The old dead white guys’ room

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 03 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b889
  1. Mary E Black, public health physician, Belgrade, Serbia
  1. drmaryblack{at}

    The first black female South African minister of health was due to visit Harvard’s School of Public Health in the 1990s. I got lost during an advance recce of the venue. A helpful black janitor put me right. “You mean the old dead white guys’ room,” he said.

    There they were, portraits of the great and the good, all white men except for one small blurry photo of a white woman. The story told was one of eminence and exclusion, of generations where many potential US leaders of public health could get in the …

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