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January 14th, 1882.
The question was finally asked—“How long was it before your professional income was sufficient to support you?”. In answer to this, 77 report that they supported themselves from the beginning, 34 in less than one year, 57 after the first year, 34 in two years, 14 in three years, and 10 in various periods of time over three years; 138 report an income still insufficient, or leave the question unanswered. But on looking over their papers, we find that 27 of this number have been in practice less than two years, 12 have never practised at all
, 22 are engaged in hospital practice where they receive no salary, 30 state that, not being dependent on their professional income, they do not estimate it separately; 11 report a sufficient income at present, but do not say when it became so, and 3 have retired from practice--this leaves therefore only 11 of the 138 who can fairly be said to have practised over two years who have failed to become self-supporting. Moreover, 32 per cent. of these women report that they have one or more persons partially or wholly dependent on them.
It appears certain that this contrasts favourably with the average length of time which a man requires before he can acquire a practice sufficient for support. It is possible that a woman may call that income sufficient which a man would think exceedingly small, but even under this supposition, it is evident that there is an existing demand for the services of women physicians, as women, which gives them at present an advantage in settling in a new district.
Of the American women-physicians, 260 report their practice to be general, though more particularly directed to the diseases of their own sex; 45 make a specialty of gynoecology and obstetrics (including surgery), 13 are engaged in hospital practice, 7 in mental diseases, and 4 in eye and ear diseases.
It has so often been asserted, especially in America, by the opponents of the practice of medicine by women, that the life of a medical practitioner was too exhausting for a woman, and would prove injurious to her health, that one of the questions was specially directed to this subject, and satisfactory replies have been received in all but thirteen instances. Something of this may be due to the fact that women students have, as a rule, commenced their medical studies at a much later age than men students; the average age
of the woman physician in America on beginning practice has been thirty-one, when she is much better able to bear physical and mental fatigue than a younger woman. It may here be questioned whether the speedy success which these ladies have obtained in practice may not be partly due to their mature age, as most persons would feel more confidence in consultation about their own or their children's health with a physician who was no longer very youthful and, presumably, inexperienced.
One interesting section of the report is that showing the degree of recognition that women physicians have received from their professional brethren by admission to their societies. In fifteen States they are received as members in the State and county societies, and seven have represented their societies at the American Medical Association. In Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Iowa and Michigan, women physicians have lately received appointments in the State asylums for the insane. They have also established several hospitals where the resident and attending physicians have been women, the consulting staff alone including men. The first was chartered in New York in 1857, with Drs. Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell and Marie Zakrzewska as physicians. In 1862 Dr. Zakrzewska became the head physician of the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston. In 1861, a similar hospital was begun in Philadelphia, among whose first physicians were the late Drs. Ann Preston and Emeline H. Cleveland; and, in 1865, a woman's hospital was established in Chicago, chiefly by the exertions of Dr. Mary H. Thompson. Several other hospitals and dispensaries of smaller size have been established in San Francisco, Detroit, Jersey City, and other towns.
This brief report of the position of women physicians, at the end of the first thirty years of their existence, is important, because it proves by the irresistible logic of figures that the number of women who can and will devote themselves to the profession is rapidly increasing, and that the public is glad to employ them. It is not likely, nor perhaps desirable, that such statistics should be collected in England, but we have no reason to doubt that, after a similar space of time has elapsed, the conclusions would be equally satisfactory.
WOMEN PHYSICIANS IN FRANCE. A great advance in the status of women doctors in France has lately taken place. Hitherto they have received, it is true, the diploma, but they were ineligible for any hospital appointment. Although they had gone through the same studies and examinations as men, they were not allowed equal advantages. This injustice has now ceased. The Superior Council of Hospitals has decided that a hospital career shall, in future, be open to women doctors. They may compete with men doctors at all future competitions, though no change is to be made in the present staff. A still more satisfactory proof of the liberality of public opinion regarding those ladies who have entered the profession is, that only three votes were given against the change.
Some months ago, Dr. Frances Hoggan, in an article in the Journal of the Vigilance Association, commenting upon the antiquated prejudices which excluded women from the International Medical Congress in London, said: “ To the thoughtful mind it is painful to see the medical profession in the two greatest Teutonic nations, England and Germany, thus leagued together against the professional interests of medical women, and, regardless of the strongly expressed desire of other women to have physicians of their own sex, refusing to them those precious opportunities of scientific intercourse and culture which are the necessary complement of the right, now conceded to them in England, but still contested in Germany, to study and practise medicine on equal terms with men. The lovers of fair play must, alas, look beyond the Teutonic to the Latin race to find that fine sense of justice and feeling which has never yet excluded a colleague from a medical society or congress on the ground of sex.” The French Medical Faculty, in thus freely opening the portals of their professional practice, has given another proof of its toleration.
A writer in the Voltaire, M. Naquet, says on this subject:
Moralists say that the degree of civilisation of a people may be known by the position that women hold there. The freer a woman is, and the more her rights are similar to those of a man, the more civilised is the people. If this is not absolutely true, it is so relatively. We affirm that a society is raised by every new right a woman obtains.
For many years we have seen young ladies
pass the baccalaureat examinations, we have seen others follow the course of our medical faculty and instruction in our hospitals, and often take a doctor's degree. But to hold a degree is not enough, one must be able to utilise it. When one is a Doctor of Medicine, one has not necessarily a practice, and those persons are surely ousted in the combat who have not got the same weapons as their competitors. Thus, for a doctor or a surgeon, hospital practice obtained by competition is the surest and most rapid means of becoming known, and of attracting patients. If the right to compete is conceded to some and refused to others, an unfair advantage is given to these former—a disloyal means of competition is put into their hands. * Perhaps without acknowledging it even to themselves, this opposition has been caused by the feeling from which so few of mankind are exempt, of wishing, when one is master of a situation, to keep it entirely to one's self. The Council Superior of Hospitals has passed beyond this prejudice. The example of America has shown for a long time that work tends to the morality of women as much as of men. To give to women a taste for deep study by opening to them the same careers which study opens to ourselves, is to diminish the taste for frivolity, to aid them to earn their bread by labour, and to dry up the source of, for the superior classes, marriages of speculation which are a curse and disgrace, and for the lower classes, of prostitution.
The Gazette des Femmes has issued a corrected list of French ladies who are now physicians:
Malle. Henri Verneuil, Chief Physician of the Maison de Santé of Plessis-Lalande (Paris, 1870).
Malle. Androline Domergue, practising in the South of France (Montpellier, 1875).
Mdme. Madelaine Brès, neé Gebelin, Officer of Public Instruction, Physician at the Theatre des Nations (Paris, 1875).
Mdme. Ribard, practising at Nantes (Paris, 1876).
To these will shortly be added another name, that of Mdme. Inès Gaches (Paris).
These names, of course, do not include those of
The Responsibilities of Women. 7 January 14th, 1882. English or American ladies who have received Paris or Montpellier diplomas. That so large a number of French ladies should already have entered the profession, shows that there is an increasing demand for their services in their own country.
ART II.—THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF WOMEN.
LET no one reading this title pass it by with a scoff or a sneer, and say, Oh more on that hackneyed subject !—When will these irrepressible women stop their effusions and trumpet-calls to one another? It is useless to try and evade the sight of writings on this and kindred subjects with regard to women. Such topics cannot fail to become more and more numerous and more pressing in their claims on enlightened readers. The key-note has been struck; a ray of light has been flashed in on the darkness of the degraded position allotted to women. The echo of the first notes has already extended far and wide, and has found sympathetic listeners in hitherto undisturbed regions. The light flashed by the revelation of the right to a wide untrammelled life of doing and bearing her share in the world's great work and sufferings, has kindled hope, and resolve, and energy in many a women, in whom despair had already begun to consume the vital spark.
What is more miserable than a do-nothing, irresponsible life? She who leads it must necessarily despise herself, and as a sure consequence be despised by others. I say the ignorance on this subject of women's responsibilities is so great that too much cannot be said, or written to give some instruction on the subject. Women are often feeble in health, and over-nervous, and only too pleased to be excused from exertions and responsibilities, for which in truth, they seem at first sight hardly fit. But what is it that has rendered them thus feeble and unduly nervous? It is the conventional