Elizabeth Blackwell wasn’t initially interested in pursuing a career in medicine. She was a teacher and she loved history and metaphysics. But she began to explore medicine after a “close friend who was dying suggested she would have been spared her worst suffering if her physician had been a woman.”
At the time, no medical schools in the U.S. accepted women. She applied to numerous programs. All rejected her except Geneva College, who accepted her after the faculty let the student body vote, who thinking this was “little more than a silly joke,” unanimously voted “yes.”
In school, she had to sit separate of her peers, was excluded at times from labs, was referred to as a “bad” woman by locals. But she worked hard and graduated first in her class in 1849. She then went on to practice as a physician, with others open a medical college for women, publish multiple books and eventually settle in London, where she worked as a professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women.