September 15th, 2022

NYU-Gold Webinar: Edinburgh, Boston, and Women in the Medical Schools of the 19th Century

For more information about the entire webinar series and other upcoming dates, click here.

This webinar aired with a live Q&A with Vignesh Sridharan, MA, on September 15. You must have attended the live session to receive CME credit. The presentation recording (without the live Q&A) will be made available for viewing later on the Gold website.

1 CME credit is just $10; the Gold Foundation is supporting this series and has committed to making CME credit affordable. The webinar is free for non-CME attendees. Donations to support the Gold Foundation’s work are optional and welcome. Full accreditation information is below. More accreditation information is below.

Download full CME information (PDF)


Vignesh Sridharan, MA
Doctoral candidate in the Department of English at NYU










Vignesh Sridharan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at NYU. He studies how the Victorians did research, focusing on education reform and women writers. His fields of expertise include Victorian literature, 19th-century periodicals, book reviews, British Raj writing, and utopian fiction.


The entry of women into British MD programs coincides with their entry into British universities: in November 1869, five women in pursuit of medical degrees passed the matriculation exams at the University of Edinburgh and became Scotland’s, and Britain’s, first female undergraduates. Women thus enter higher education at the same moment that they enter medicine. That “degrees for women” and “a medical education for women” should have been briefly synonymous in the press and public debate was a curious circumstance, but it dramatized some abstract questions: what was the purpose of higher education? How broad should it be? What made medicine “science”?

Women’s medical education in the 1860s forms a particular historical crux that I want to describe in this talk. On the one hand, it led to a wider set of victories for women in higher education, inaugurating the institutional changes that gave Britain female BAs, MAs and PhDs, as well as MDs. Its legacy is intertwined with that of the early suffragists, and the feminist founders of the women’s colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. Like their American contacts and inspirations, the physicians at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, British education reformers were willing to argue their case on practical grounds: female patients would not — maybe should not — consult men on obstetric or gynecological complaints; women would die so long as they had no female physicians. The careers of this first generation of women MDs reflect an early feminism we recognize, and nineteenth-century anxieties about sexual knowledge that have grown dim, and show us a moment when professional and intellectual possibilities expand and contract at once.


The NYU Grossman School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

CREDIT DESIGNATION STATEMENTThe NYU Grossman School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.       PROVIDED BYNYU Grossman School of Medicine

For more information about the entire webinar series and other upcoming dates, click here.