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International Women’s Day 2020: Seeing 100 Years of the Female Vote in 2020

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March 8th marks International Women’s Day 2020 - a day dedicated to the celebration, remembrance and recognition of women across industry, racial and national lines. This annual holiday, surrounded by Women’s History Month, recognizes women’s contributions to society as a whole as well as the barriers still before them all over the world. This year’s celebration is particularly special as 2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment ratification, which gave women the right to vote in the United States.

According to researched displayed the Library of Congress’ commemorative exhibit “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote”, women campaigned for the right to vote for over 70 years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. This arduous journey campaigning for women’s suffrage was not an easy one as suffragists often faced extreme, even violent, opposition. “The movement questioned the country’s commitment to democracy, exposed the nation’s longstanding class, regional, and racial divides, and challenged existing gender stereotypes.”

One does not have to look far to see the influence women have had in politics, technology, literature and nearly every industry or aspect of society- including medicine. This month is a time of reflection as much as it is an opportunity to look beyond the glass ceiling and into the future for women. To further continue the social, economic, and professional growth of women, there are countless organizations, events and initiatives. Take a look at our list for inspiration:

1) Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.- The first female M.D.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell is well known in the medical community as the first woman to earn a medical degree.1 Blackwell decided to pursue medicine, which was not a common area of practice for a woman. She faced hardship and discrimination in her pursuit of her education, but achieved her goal after graduating from Geneva Medical College in Geneva, New York. Despite much opposition, she graduated with her degree in 1849 and went on to continue her training abroad in hospitals in London and Paris. During this time she pushed the now arguably commonplace ideas of preventative care and proper hygiene for doctors who were easily spreading illness by not properly washing in between patients.1 She returned to New York City in 1851 and, despite facing much gender discrimination, opened a clinic to treat impoverished women. Later, she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell, and Dr. Marie Zakrzewska.1 In 1868, Blackwell further continued to open the door for women in medicine by founding her own medical college for women in New York City. In 1875, Blackwell returned to London, serving as a professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine, and helped to found the National Health Society.

To learn more about Dr. Blackwell, read this article here.1

2) Dr. Helen B. Taussig, M.D.- Pediatric Cardiologist

Dr. Helen B. Taussig is considered the a key player in the founding of pediatric cardiology as a medical specialty.2 She best known in the medical community as a co-developer of the Blalock-Taussig procedure2, which is more commonly known as "blue baby operation."2 This particular procedure corrects the congenital heart defect that causes tetralogy of Fallot, otherwise known as "blue baby syndrome."3 Suffering from her own health-related concerns, including dyslexia and deafness, Taussig was accepted to John’s Hopkins University School of Medicine and eventually became the first woman to hold a full professorship there. Additionally, she also become the first female president of the American Heart Association and actively pursued her research until her passing in 1986.2 Today, Taussig is recognized foremost for having saved numerous children’s lives through her work.

To learn more about Dr. Taussig, check out this article here.2

3) Natalia Tanner – The first African American fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Dr. Natalia Tanner is esteemed as the first African American fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics among her many other accomplishments breaking through the gender and racial barriers in the medical industry. She earned her medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.5 After completing her residency and training in New York City and Chicago, Tanner and her husband moved to Detroit, Michigan. Despite receiving racial and gender discrimination, Tanner went on to become the first African American board certified pediatrician in Detroit.5 In 1983, Tanner became the first African American and the first woman to ever serve as the president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.6 Tanner sought to improve children’s access to proper health care and so established a liaison committee among three different organizations all working toward that same goal- the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM), the National Committee on Adolescence for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the pediatric section of the National Medical Association (NMA).6 Tanner practiced medicine into her 70’s and taught as a clinical professor in Wayne State University’s pediatric department.

To learn more about Dr. Natalia Tanner, click here.

This list is only a small sample of the countless influential women who have helped to shape healthcare in America and advance women’s place in the medical field. One does not have to look far to see the influence women have had in medicine, politics, technology, literature and nearly every industry or aspect of society. This month is a time of reflection as much as it is an opportunity to look beyond the glass ceiling and into the future for women. Join the discussion with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as the nation both celebrates and champions women.

 

References:

  1. Elizabeth Blackwell. (2015). National Women’s History Museum. Retrieved March 8, 2018, from https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/elizabeth-blackwell
  2. Forde, Richard James. (n.d.). "Helen Brooke Taussig." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 12, 2018) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/taussig-helen-brooke>.
  3. Helen B. Taussig, M.D. (n.d.). The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Retrieved March 8, 2018, from http://medicalarchives.jhmi.edu/tausbio.htm
  4. Biography: Dr. Leila Daughtry Denmark. Elizabeth Blackwell. (June 3, 2015). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved March 8, 2018, from https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_78.html
  5. Biography: Dr. Natalia M. Tanner. (June 3, 2015). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_315.html
  6. Biography: Dr. Natalia M. Tanner. (June 3, 2015). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_315.html

 

 

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