Thursday, February 04, 2010

Oregon Women Physicians: a mid-century perspective

Looking, as always, for something else, I came across something rather more interesting than what I was hunting.

The Fall 1968 issue of the University of Oregon Medical School Report to the Alumni contains a six-page article on "Oregon's Women: Bright, Attractive, and Determined." [Let's ignore for a minute the fact that the editors felt they needed to include a comment on the women's looks in the headline.]

The occasion for the write-up was the admission that fall of eight women in a class of 92, "the largest class of women medical students in its history." The reader then gets a brief history of women in Oregon medicine:
Women medical students and graduates seem to have found a minimum of antifeminine attitude in Oregon for many years. Setting a precedent, the Multnomah County Medical Society admitted 11 women to membership in 1903. The first woman physician to head a state medical association, Leslie Kent of Eugene, was elected president of the Oregon Medical Association in 1948.

In 1900 there were 27 women physicians in Oregon of which 14 were "local" graduates. Before 1900, the local schools had graduated a total of 44 women. Currently, there are 24 women enrolled as medical students in the UOMS. There are no women interns this year, but there are nine women residents and three fellows. The total number of women graduates from the institution since 1950 is 65 from a total of 1314.
The rest of the piece is made up of short interviews with each of the eight incoming freshwomen: Nancy Day Adams, Maureen Alice Connolly, Leslie Johnson Dillow, Ann Jensen Vanderheit, Eleanor Jullum, Karen Krebs, Regina Ross, and Cheryl Leslie Taubman. Each was asked the usual questions: why did you choose medicine? Have you encountered any antifeminine discrimination? Do you think medicine will negatively impact your ability to marry or have a family?

To the question, Why did you apply at Oregon?, Karen Krebs noted that:
When I was applying to medical schools one of the things I did was draw out a chart with tuition, fees, and the number of girls admitted as opposed to the total number in the class. Oregon ranked pretty high. I knew this was one of the better schools--but it was the number of girls accepted that was impressive. I also heard by the grapevine that Oregon really has a good attitude toward women as opposed to Washington for example.
The trend has been generally upwards since then; the OHSU SOM Class of 2010 entered in 2006 with 63 females and 56 males.

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