Women’s History Month

March 1, 2024

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we want to reflect on 15 influential women who have transformed healthcare and technology throughout history.

1. Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.

Blackwell was the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. She opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children to open the door for many other women physicians to follow in her footsteps.

2. Clara Barton

Barton was a nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She established the National First Aid Association of America, an organization dedicated to emergency preparedness, and developed first aid kits.

3. Susan La Flesche Picotte, M.D.

Picotte was the first Native American woman in the United States to earn a medical degree. She opened a hospital in Walthill, Nebraska, in 1913, bringing access to medical care to the reservation.

4. Marie Curie

Curie’s research on radioactivity paved the way for the development of X-rays and radiation for cancer treatment. Not only was she the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, but she was also the first to win the Nobel Prize twice.

5. Georgia Rooks Dwelle, M.D.

Dr. Dwelle was the first woman to graduate from Spelman College and attend medical school. In 1920, she established Dwelle Infirmary, the first maternity hospital for Black women in Atlanta, Georgia.

6. Dorothy Ferebee, M.D.

Dr. Ferebee advocated for racial equality and women’s healthcare. She became the medical director for the Mississippi Health Project, where she enabled the distribution of state and federal resources to marginalized Black communities in rural South.

7. Virginia Apgar, M.D.

Apgar is an American physician, anesthesiologist, and medical researcher known for inventing the Apgar score. This test significantly reduced infant mortality rates by assessing the medical health of newborn babies in the first few minutes of life.

8. Jane Cooke Wright, M.D.

Wright was the first woman elected president of the New York Cancer Society. She laid the foundation for cancer treatment today.

9. Nina Starr Braunwald, M.D.

Braunwald was the first woman to become a cardiac surgeon and the first woman to be certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. She was among the first women to perform open heart surgery.

10. Ruth M. Davis, Ph.D.

Davis was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Maryland. She contributed to the development of MEDLINE, a medical literature database, and developed a public data encryption standard to protect patient privacy.

11. Roselyn Payne Epps, M.D.

Dr. Epps was the first Black woman to serve as president of the American Medical Women’s Association and was an advocate for women, minorities, and the underserved.

12. Marilyn Hughes Gaston, M.D.

Gaston is known for her groundbreaking research on treating sickle cell disease. Gaston was the first Black woman director of the Bureau of Primary Health Care in the Department of Health and Human Services.

13. Judy Ann Bigby, M.D.

Dr. Bigby served as the director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Excellence in Women’s Health. She is recognized for her work educating physicians in providing care to people with histories of substance abuse.

14. Julielynn Wong, M.D., MPH

Wong founded 3D4MD, whose mission is to provide 3-D-printable healthcare supplies to remote communities. She designed a small portable 3-D printer to print medical supplies worldwide.

15. Elizabeth Ofili, M.D., MPH, FACC

Dr. Ofili is a national and internationally recognized clinician scientist with particular focus on cardiovascular disparities and women’s health. She serves as a professor of medicine, chief of cardiology, and director and principal investigator of the Clinical Research Center at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Learn more:

7 Women Healthcare Technology Trailblazers (carerev.com)

10 Trailblazing Women in Healthcare | Health Hive (rochesterregional.org)

Honoring Black Americans’ Contributions to Medicine | AAFP

The 10 most influential women in the history of medicine | Proclinical Blogs

10 Modern Female Innovators Who Are Changing Medicine (verywellhealth.com)

61 Black Women in Medicine You Should Know | The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation (wimlf.org)


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