Pioneer Women In Medicine

By Sara Fathima

October 11, 2022

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth was rejected by many medical schools before she managed to get a medical degree from Sorbonne University, France in 1870. She later co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women –  the only teaching hospital for women – with Sophia Jex-Blake – one of the  Edinburgh Seven.

First Woman Surgeon & Physician in Britain

Image Source: Wikipedia


With support from Edith Pechey, suffrage activists, and the Maharaja of Indore, Rukhmabai was able to complete her degree in medicine. She returned to India in 1895 and worked in women’s hospitals in Surat and Rajkot until her retirement.

One of the First Practising Doctors in Colonial India

Image Source: Wikipedia

Edith Pechey-Phipson 

Was a member of Edinburgh Seven - the first women medical graduates in the UK. She passed her exams at the University of Bern in German. She came to India in 1883 and practised as a senior doctor for 20 years at Cama Hospital where she also initiated training programmes for nurses. 

One of the First Women Doctors in the UK

Image Source: Wikipedia

Anandibai Joshi

With encouragement from her husband Gopalrao, Anandibai was able to travel to the US and study medicine. She enrolled in the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. On returning to India, she was appointed as physician-in-charge of the women’s ward at Albert Edward Hospital in Kolhapur. She passed away at 22 due to TB before she could practise.  

First Indian Woman To  Receive a Medical Degree in  Western Medicine

Image Source: Wikipedia

Dorothea Erxleben

To support her family, Dorothea began practising medicine while still a student in 1747, and was charged with quackery. Frederick the Great ruled that Dorothea would have to pass the exams and submit a dissertation, following which, she received her MD in 1754. 

First Woman Doctor in Germany

Image Source: Wikipedia

Kadambini Ganguly

The first woman to be admitted to the Calcutta Medical College in 1884. She was then trained in Scotland before returning to India for her practice. She was often called upon by royal families for treatment. Also the first woman speaker in INC.

One of the First Medical Practitioners in India

Image Source: Wikipedia

Susan La Flesche Picotte

The Women's National Indian Association in Connecticut sponsored Susan’s medical education at Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania as it was in line with the victorian values of the time. Throughout her practice, she battled chronic illness while also treating indigenous communities on the Omaha reservation. 

First Indigenous Woman To Earn a Medical Degree

Image Source: Wikipedia

Muthulakshmi Reddy

A woman of many firsts, from being the first woman house surgeon to the first woman legislator in British India. She graduated with gold medals from Madras Medical College in 1912. She later left medicine to focus on social reform. Her efforts contributed to the abolition of the Devadasi system. 

One of the First Indian Women in Modern Medicine

Image Source: Wikipedia