February 3 marks the day where we honor the path that female physicians have paved since 1849 all thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. This day marks the birthday of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States in 1849. Dr. Blackwell initiated the movement that helped women gain entry and equality in the field of medicine, and I will be forever grateful for her courage and leadership.
Not only does National Women Physician Day celebrate the bravery of Elizabeth Blackwell, but this day also serves to support the accomplishments of female physicians everywhere and strives to bring improvements to the workplace for the growing number of female doctors entering the field of medicine. I’m truly in awe of the many hats that female physicians wear—mom, daughter, physician, mentor, leader, and many more.
I do want to make note that while the number of female physicians has gradually increased in the last two decades, 2016 statistics show that only 35% of physicians are women. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that female physicians earn on average 8% less than their male counterparts. That discrepancy along with nearly a third of female physicians reporting sexual harassment in the workplace and a large majority experiencing gender bias demonstrates that clearly there is still work to be done.
If you did not participate this year, my hope is that you will participate next year in celebrating women physicians as colleagues, friends, family, and physicians. I’ll leave you with this quote from Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell herself, “If society will not admit of a woman’s free development, then society must be remodeled.”