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Role of women in medicine between 1350 and 1900 Essay

There are many ways in which the role of women in medicine changed between the 1350 and 1900, accepted to colleges and universities, the difference in Europe to England and the image of nurses. Before the 1350’s women were not allowed or accepted to do anything involving medicine, they were seen and mentally unfit and too emotional for such jobs. Women have always been central in providing medical care, whether offering remedies in the home, nursing or acting as herbalists. However, the medical profession has been male dominated for most of its history. In Europe this came about from the 1400s, when many cities and governments decided that only those trained in universities were allowed to formally practise medicine. As women were not allowed into the universities they could not gain a licence. It was only until the late 1800’s after much struggle, that women won the right to study and practise medicine in the same way as men. This law was passed by the parliament in 1876; women were now allowed to study medicine in universities and colleges. The separate sphere philosophy, the idea that women are seen to be mothers and domestics house wives only, however men were strong, working and the providers.

This image changed during the 1800’s and women who were nurses were often associated with prostitutes and drunks. However Florence Nightingale tried to change this image of nurses by only employing women who were highly religious, she scolded women who turned up to work drunk. Furthermore, Nightingale helped promote nursing as a more respectable profession for women rather than a profession frowned upon by men and in fact some women. However by 1900 women were still not able use the forceps, this meant that women still had to use their hands to help the mother give birth. From this we can see that even not being able to use the smallest of things can affect their jobs widely. Despite this women still deemed unfit to perform certain medical procedures such as some operations. This meant that women still could not forefeel their hopes and dreams in making a name in the world of medicine. Having analysed all the factors I feel that the most important factor to how far the role of women changed during 1350 to the 1900’s is the views and opinions of women. Although allowing women to be educated was quite important and also letting do certain medical procedures, if the opinions on women didn’t change.

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