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Thematic History
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In this section:     Women in medicine and dentistry  

> Thematic History

> 1850-1901:
Education for Women

- Victorian Ideals

- Woman Physician
- Ladies College

> 1902-1913:
Education & Vocation

- Learning at ELC
- The Westfield Way

> 1914-1945:
War & Circumstance

- The Great War
- WWII Evacuation
- Learning & Leisure

> 1946-1959:
Peace & Acceptance

- Restoration
- Medicine & Dentistry

> 1960-present:
Change & Opportunity

- Women in Science
- Creativity & Diversity
- Then & Now


Women struggled to study medicine from as early as the 1850s when Blackwell, Anderson and Colboure each faced challenges and difficulties. There was a short period from 1918 that women were permitted to study at The London, but that ban was reinstated 1922.

Click to enlarge: College Committee Minutes, 14 Mar 1945.
College Committee Minutes, 14 Mar 1945.
Courtesy of St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives.

Click to enlarge: College Committee Minutes, 12 Sept 1945.
College Committee Minutes, 12 Sept 1945.
Courtesy of St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives.


During the 1940s, efforts were made to persuade the London medical colleges to admit women students. This was partly a result of changing attitudes to women, and a realisation that the new National Health Service would make greater demands on the medical profession.

The University of London’s Senate convened a special Committee on the Medical Education of Women, who carried out investigations informed by the 1944 Goodenough Report.

Recommendations were duly made that women be admitted to the London medical schools.
The Dental School of The London Hospital Medical College was positive about the idea of women students being admitted, perhaps due to their struggles to recruit students. The Medical College at The London Hospital however held a different, opposing position on this issue, and did not wish to admit women.

Listen Listen: Dental Council Members' recollections on Women in Dentistry

St. Bartholomew’s was persistent in its negative view on the admission of women. As the Committee Minutes (top, right) show, Barts made representations expressing their opposition to admitting women students. Finally, Barts reluctantly agreed to accept its obligation to admit women along with the other London medical schools, in order to ensure that its status as a College of the University of London and educational grants were not withdrawn.

As a result of the extensive debates across the London medical colleges, all institutions became co-educational institutions, including the London School of Medical for Women.

Women were permitted to enter as medical and dental students from 1947. As the Committee Minutes (bottom, right) show, Barts made preparations to “accept women students not later than the opening of the session 1947-1948”. The University expected that “in the initial stages the proportion of women to men shall be not less than fifteen percent of the total entry". More...


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