Harriet Hunt is the first woman to apply to Harvard Medical School. She is also the first woman rejected. (Point of reference: The first medical school opened over 80 years earlier in 1765 at the University of Pennsylvania. Students enrolled for "anatomical lectures" and a course on "the theory and practice of physick.")
The first women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. A set of 12 resolutions is adopted calling for the equal treatment of women under the law and for voting rights for women.
Elizabeth Blackwell is the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. She graduates from Geneva Medical College in New York, where her admission had been endorsed by fellow students, who reportedly thought her application was a practical joke.
The Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first medical school for women, opens with an enrollment of 40 women. Founded by Quakers, the school faced serious opposition from the male medical establishment, which felt that women were too feeble-minded and delicate for the rigors of clinical practice.
Elizabeth Blackwell and her sister Emily, along with Maria Zakrzewska, MD, establish the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. It is the first hospital operated by women and the first to offer clinical training for women.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler becomes the first African-American woman to receive an MD
Ann Preston, MD, is appointed the first female dean of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She is also the first woman dean of any medical school in the U.S.
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Women’s Suffrage Association with the goal of achieving voting rights for women by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.
The University of Michigan becomes the first state medical school to formally admit women.
Sarah Hackett Stevenson, MD, is admitted as the first female member of the American Medical Association, which was founded in 1847.
Co-educational Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is established.
By the end of the 19th century, more than 7000 women physicians were at work in the US (an estimated 10% of total working physicians), up from only 200 in 1860. Despite this, women would remain a minority in medicine throughout most of the 20th century. Though 12% of med school graduates in 1949 were women, by 1965, that percentage had gone back down to 7%.
Florence Sabin, MD, becomes the first female faculty member of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 2005, the school honored her legacy by naming one of its four colleges after her.
The American College of Surgeons was founded in Chicago, IL. Florence West Duckering, an attending surgeon at The New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston, was one of the first women surgeons admitted to the college the same year.
The Medical Women’s National Association, now known as the American Medical Women’s Association, is founded by Bertha Van Hoosen, MD.
Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, NY. Although the clinic is shut down 10 days later and Sanger is arrested, she eventually wins support through the courts and opens another clinic in New York City in 1923.
The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is signed into law.
Florence Sabin is the first woman admitted to the National Academy of Sciences.
Margaret Craighill, MD, becomes the first woman doctor to be appointed as a major in the Armed Medical Corps.
Harvard Medical School finally admits women.
Gerty Cori, MD, is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing the prize with her husband, also an MD.
Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA is the last medical school to admit female students. This is the same year that the Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pills.
Betty Friedan publishes her highly influential book The Feminine Mystique, which describes the dissatisfaction felt by middle-class American housewives with the narrow role imposed on them by society. The book becomes a best-seller and galvanizes the modern women's rights movement. Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded by a group of feminists including Betty Friedan. One of the largest women's rights group in the U.S., NOW seeks to end sexual discrimination, especially in the workplace, by means of legislative lobbying, litigation, and public demonstrations.
Louise C. Gloeckner, MD, is elected AMA vice president, becoming the highest ranking woman physician in the organization to date.
The U.S. Congress passes Title IX, the groundbreaking law that prohibits gender discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funds.
Though women physicians continue to be underrepresented in the medical profession, the percentage of women medical school graduates nearly tripled between 1970 and 1980.
The Association of Women’s Surgeons was founded in hopes of bringing down barriers that remain for women in surgery.
Nancy Dickey, MD, is the first woman to be elected to the AMA Board of Trustees.
Antonia Novello, MD, becomes the first woman appointed U.S. Surgeon General.
Nancy Dickey, MD, becomes the first female president of the AMA.
More than 25% of all physicians in the U.S. are women.
The percentage of female medical school applicants reaches an all-time high: 49% of applicants are women.
There are 10 female deans of U.S. medical schools, comprising just over 6 percent of all medical school deans.
49% of the 42,315 applicants to the entering class of the 2007-2008 academic year are women. Women comprise 48% of all matriculating students. 49% of those graduating with medical degrees in 2007 are women.
Nancy H. Nielsen, MD, PhD, a board-certified internist from Buffalo, N.Y., is elected as the 163rd president of the AMA. She is the second woman to hold the AMA's highest elected office in the organization’s 161-year history.