Today, 3 February, marks an important day in the calendar of women’s history: the birthday of Dr Elizabeth Blackwell.
Born 200 years ago today, Dr Blackwell was a pioneer in medical education for women at a time when many were forced out of the male-dominated profession simply because of their gender. Undeterred by the social norms of the time, British-born Dr Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school and went on to co-found the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857. Ten years later, this institution was expanded to include a medical school for women; the first of its kind, Dr Blackwell’s medical school provided training for female doctors and offered medical care to the poor .
Although two centuries have passed since then, gender-based biases and stereotypes still deter girls and women from entering science-related fields. UNESCO data from 2014 to 2016 tell us that only around 30% of female students in higher education study STEM-related subjects: the end result is that women represent less than a third of scientific researchers globally . This prompted the United Nations General Assembly to adopt resolution A/RES/70/212 in 2015, declaring 11 February each year as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science . The primary aim of this initiative is to grant equal access to and participation in science for women and girls across the globe. .
As a STEM-related field, the healthcare communications industry is unique in the fact that roughly 76% of our industry is female . At Porterhouse, in the count down to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February, we will be releasing a series of articles on the Porterhouse website to mark this event and also examine some of the issues that still negatively impact the working lives of women.
We will also be sharing the career timelines for some of the women here at Porterhouse, to show how women can progress in STEM-related fields and to inspire a new generation of women looking to enter our industry.
We hope that you can join us for our countdown to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and that you find the materials we produce both enlightening and inspiring.
1) Changing the face of medicine. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. Available at: https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_35.html. Accessed January 2021.
2) United Nations. International Day of Women and Girls in Science: 11 February. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/observances/women-and-girls-in-science-day. Accessed January 2021.
3) Paramount Recruitment. Healthcare Communications Salary & Insight Survey: Summary Report 2020 – UK. Available at: https://pararecruit.com/storage/app/media/salary_surveys/Healthcare-Comms-Salary-and-Insight-Survey-Summary-Report-2020-UK-Paramount-Recruitment.pdf. Accessed January 2021.
Author: Jack Gibbons, Associate Editor, Porterhouse Medical