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Women allowed to enter the Medical Profession from 1876

In the 19th Century, a career as a physician was a highly respected following for a man. Yet it was considered outrageous for any woman to pursue a career in such a traditionally male-dominated profession.

Despite this, some women were determined to succeed. Born in 1836, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson wanted to become a doctor from an early age, but still met with great resistance when applying to medical institutions, all of which denied her entry.

She was finally permitted to attend Middlesex Hospital as a nursing student, but was deeply unpopular, particularly after an incident in which she was shown to be the only student able to answer the lecturer's questions. As a result she was barred from attending by other students.

In 1865 she took and passed the Society of Apothecaries' exam, as the regulations didn't state that women couldn't sit it. Immediately afterwards, the society changed its rules to forbid women from taking the exam - a discouraging example of the mindset she was up against.

Still determined to become a doctor, she travelled to France where she finally gained her degree from the University of Paris. She married in 1871 and combined having children with her ongoing career - founding the New Hospital for Women in London, and subsequently the London School of Medicine for Women.

In 1876 a government Act declared that all women should be allowed to enter the medical professions - an Act almost certainly influenced by her achievements.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson can be found in the 1851 Census for Suffolk.

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