Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our foremothers

Foremothers? Maybe it's not even a word. I was trying to find a term like forefathers.

I often think about the women who have come before us. As I walk through the halls of our medical school, I see class photos from decades past with 1 or 2 women amongst a sea of male faces. I often wonder whether they had children during their training or afterward, or were they 'discouraged' from getting married or having children? How did they function as female doctors and perhaps mothers in a world that was probably less understanding than what we face today?

I would bet they faced great hardships--particularly sexism beyond what I can comprehend. They may have anguished over pregnancies they had to hide, grieved over the lack of child care options, and struggled to satisfy unrealistic expectations of their employers. And just maybe they dreamed about us--the women who would follow them--and hoped our lot would be easier.

It reminds me of a female doctor from my mom's era who didn't tell anyone she was pregnant in medical school then didn't show up for a test one day.  Yep, she had her baby and came back to school within a week!

I am forever grateful for the trails our foremothers blazed and admire their courage. They are true heroes to me.


  1. Check out this article a friend of a friend posted on Twitter

    Her grandmother in medical school in 1942!

  2. Late to this one and had to put in my two cents...I recently had the chance to thank one of our foremothers (great word) who is now retired and is one of my heroes. We both attended an ACP event - I didn't know she was going to be there. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to thank her in person.

    I am 55 and I sit between that generation and most of you; I suspect I have a clearer idea of the challenges they faced. A few years ago we had a woman in our inpatient hospice unit who was in her 80s, and who was one of the first women to practice medicine in our community. She wasn't responsive. I said my thanks to her kids, and I think it meant a lot to them.


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