One of the reasons why there was so much opposition to women becoming doctors was because society expected women to marry young and produce children. The thought of women working shocked many as people did not expect their daughters or wives to work for a living. The men believed that it was them who were superior, both physically and mentally. They did not see sense in educating women as they believed that women were too stupid to understand medicine anyway. They assumed that they could not trust these women with patients’ lives and accept that they would not make silly mistakes which could lead to the death of the patient. Any woman that succeeded in becoming a doctor was still thought of as inferior to the men because they believed she would not be able to understand their complex minds.
This opposition also could have been due to the reputation of nurses in the first half of the nineteenth century. With no sense of professionalism, the nurses were nearly always drunk and dirty which encouraged the men to believe that all women would be the same if they were to enter the world of medicine. Nurses often took up prostitution to earn extra money therefore further disgusting men and making them believe that it was not a sensible idea for a respectable woman to enter the occupation. So even the women who were genuinely interested in becoming professional doctors would have been excluded and labelled under the same category as these nurses. Another reason may have been that men simply did not like being told what to do by women.
If intelligent women were to enter the profession, they may make important discoveries before the men therefore hurting a man’s pride and ego. Men may have felt threatened by women that they thought were trying to usurp the profession, and therefore dismissed them as stupid and unprofessional so that they could ensure that it was only them who made great discoveries. Finally, religion was an important reason as to why there was opposition from men. The church prohibited women from achieving education and therefore many religious men may have excluded women because they were following the church’s rules and their religion. If they allowed women to receive medical training, they would have been going against the Church which was very powerful in the Middle Ages.
Courtney from Study Moose
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