Throughout our history classes in school, we learn about all the great (and not so great) things men have done since the dawn of time. While the world is becoming more inclusive every day, we do not always hear about the achievements of women. But women have always been there in the background or forefront of innovating inventions, changing lives for the better.
Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, born in 1821, was the first woman to be given an MD degree. Blackwell was turned away from 10 different schools before given the opportunity to earn her degree. Even when she was finally admitted to a college, it was because the students who were asked their opinion on the matter thought it was a joke. Who’s laughing now? Blackwell showed the world not only that women should be taken seriously, but also that women were smart enough for the medical field.
Mary Putnam Jacobi, MD, born in 1842, most notably debunked myths about women’s menstrual cycle. Back in her day, men thought exertion during the menstrual cycle was dangerous. This “exertion” included things like studying. Jacobi submitted an extensive, well-written report on why that was total nonsense, won Harvard’s distinguished Boylston Prize, and made it possible for women to receive an education more equal to her male counterparts.
Patricia Goldman-Rakic, PhD, born in 1937, laid the groundwork for comprehending the prefrontal cortex, which at the time was thought to be too complex to understand in detail. However, Goldman-Rakic was able to map and explain the circuitry of the prefrontal cortex. Because of Goldman-Rakic, we understand more about diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.
Ada Lovelace was a mathematician credited with writing the first computer algorithm. Josephine Cochrane was the first person to create a dishwasher that actually cleans dishes. Rachel Fuller Brown and Elizabeth Lee Hazen created the first antifungal drug. Grace Murray Hopper invented the first computer program that could turn written language into code. Patricia Bath was the first African-American woman to receive a medical patent, which also happened to be for her invention of cataract surgery. And my favorite woman, Ruth Wakefield, invented the chocolate chip cookie.
There are so many more bits of knowledge that we have and things we use all because a woman took the reins. Women have not always had the platform to inspire, yet they’ve always persevered without fail.
By: Better Me by Dr. B
Editor: Ariel Thompson
Medical Reviewer: Dr. Tiffany Bell D.O.