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American Pediatric Society
February 2015

Women in Pediatrics

Author Affiliations
  • 1Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Editor in Chief Emerita, JAMA
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(2):106-107. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2917

When we were sick during our childhood, most of us were cared for by our mothers; this nurturing characteristic of women plays an important role in pediatrics. That is not to say that some men are not nurturing—we all are better for knowing them.

The first woman physician was Merit (how is that for a fitting name?) Ptah, who lived in Egypt around 2700 BC. It is likely that she cared for children in her practice. However, it was much later that the first woman in the United States earned her medical degree from the Geneva Medical College in 1849.1 Elizabeth Blackwell then studied at children’s hospitals in London, Paris, and Scotland, and later returned to the United States, where she helped start the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. In 1872, Mary Putnam Jacobi, wife of Abraham Jacobi, started a children’s ward at the New York Infirmary and was the first woman to become a member of the Academy of Medicine.1

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