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tv   Author Discussion on the History of Women in Medicine  CSPAN  November 10, 2021 7:20pm-7:55pm EST

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>> stay up-to-date in the latest in publishing with the tvs new podcast, about books in the industry news through insider interviews in the recording in the latest nonfiction releases and bestseller list of even finest on all of our podcast on c-span now app or whatever you get the podcasts and you can also watch my books online anytime a >> hello and welcome to the 2021, library of congress. i'm the journalist to frequently contribute to the new a new republican the editor of what we did not expect and personal stories about premature births in here today olivia campbell about the books, and how to
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pioneering sisters brought medicine to women it and then went into medicine and women in white coats at the first women doctors change the world of medicine. for the first time, the authors will discussth their books and y the five for the two for q&a and please start sending your questions now. to get things picked up here, an effort to tell me the quick pitch about your book. >> so my booke is about three victorian women it, and anderson as they were among the first practicing mds who are women it in the victoria area pretty they didn't get along at all but they decided that after reaching such terrible sexism in their
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attempts to be an md that they had been there personal business assigned work together to establish medical school for women it so it work together to establish the women school for medicine. >> and doctor blackwell is double biography of elizabeth blackwell featured in olivia's book and her sister emily blackwell, the first woman in this country to receive a medical degree in 1849, and her sister emily who was five years younger, was recruited into the field by her older sister and became the third doctor in this country and together they founded the new york for women and children and the later the women's medical college of the new york. >> that is wonderful and so these folks are so fantastically complementary and janice'sll bok as the rise of these two sisters who were trailblazers men olivia's book is about how women
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changed it the course of medicine. did you know each other before writing these books. >> know it was a convergence of great minds and thinking alike. >> it just shows me that when we look at history, mostly lessons we can learn about the moment today and the fact that you both came upon these dual narratives in what you think you can tell us about no hundred life and the role of women in medicine now. >> olivia do you want to go ahead. >> i think what is really kind of stunning obviously is how much there is still in medicine and have written in journalism about some women leaving
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medicine because of the sexism now i think that it was really sad for me to find this and really to have a triumphant ending that we overcame sexism in medicine is great now and yes there are women doctors now and of course there are. and in specialties within medicine but at the same time, there still sexism within the profession. >> right in the story of elizabeth blackwell if you've heard of her adult probably because you read a biography of her when you are little she's a complicated figure and so is her sister emily ihe think part of e lesson that i learned from doing a deep dive into their lives was to remember these heroes do not have to be adorable and likable but i think we are in this country sometimes by insisting that our heroes be somebody that we have a beer with rated and
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the sisters were like prickly but fabulous and they were challenging personalities and they were often out of step with the general direction of the women's movement but no less trailblazers. most important i think the sometimes to see past the personal and larger picture when considering it these figures to more complicated than the children's biography sometimes makes out.k >> thank you this fascinating have a lot to hear what is like to see diving into history and a very stressful time what was like to write a book think pandemic and didn't affect
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rewriting or where already far along the process. >> i was lucky in that i got to actually the fall of 2019 in london so i just barely missed it when to scotland and i went to england in the archives and the whole letters and papers written by these women it was just so electrifying for so for me for that initial art i was really not affected by the pandemic but it was really into the editing process and checking the kind of think once a pandemic it in for me, is really an issue of trying to find a reason to keep going and find a reason feeling like my work was important, global emergency and you know, i kept telling myself that these women are the reason why there's women waiting at the hospitals just to treat people
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now and all of these kinds of professions in specialties these women's the reasons that there are women waiting for youth hostel now so that is what kept me going. >> and i also was extremely lucky to have handed in my final any script in march of 2020 and people feeling grateful for that and then i publish this book in january 2021, the week of the inauguration and it was an incredible moment for stories both of public health and pathbreaking women and in some ways there were great silver linings to having this project in this moment is certainly personally and having it as a purpose in the book was coming out, and to do the work regardless of what was happening all around in any of the ability to connected to people and
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reintroduce this path and virtually has been in some ways, a gift i certainly spoken and connected with more people this year than i ever could have if i try to do it all in person so i have felt the power of the silverlining this year. >> is wonderful even for events like this and just thinking about how amazing that anybody can tune in at the part of these discussions and in a way the pandemic is open that up. and one of the things that struck me aboutut your book is e power of women entering medicine, not just sort of an equivalent but because when you have diverse inclusive perspective it is going to improve medical care and can you talk about that happened work know that didn't happen, why not. >> i think that there was this
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incredible intuitive sense they had that the accepted wisdom in much of the victorian medicine was wrong. they believed intuitively in the power of fresh air and cold water and they had spent probably more time at the bedside going up as women in the household and men were dominating a profession so they brought a unique perspective and awareness of the body and of the female body certainly that they've men just didn't happen i find it fascinating to watch them not just be intuitive about innovations and about the hygiene but also open-minded to the mainstream profession often missed but the truth like
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medicines and interesting alternative approaches and that they were very reluctant to dismiss out of hand and they were open-minded. she said she wanted to be able to commit to the challenges and i thank you so an approach that a lot of her male colleagues were not granted towards braided ... le that she trained in the people that are slightly younger than her like sophia and elizabeth garrett anderson were kind of in this new school of looking at science. elizabeth blackwell was a ahead of her time in medicine. that was that era that was kind of unheard-of and she was a
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little skeptical of medicine probably rightfully so because a lot of it was poison. ... were interested in researching women's health in a way that the mail doctors were not and if you look at stories many of these because they had a female relative dying a painful horrible death or did not want to go see a doctor who was a man. theyo cannot talk to them in a way they want to do. they cannot talk about the nature of their problems. most mail doctors wrote offod women's ailments as you have a uterus is the whole reason you're sick. cancer is a feminine problem it is because you are woman is the only reason you're sick. it's newer, younger women were saying was actually do the research.
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let's bring science to these problems, what exactly what is really causing these problem it's not because i have a uterus tight lacing addresses, the heavy clothing that women wore, women weree kept indoors and did not get exercise the same way boys did. very common sense things we think of now but were totally radical at the time. >> it is not just what women wore or how they were necessarily treated it. there was not a lot of research into women's health, right? and how would you change that? >> you want to go ahead? [laughter] one of the big theories is women shouldn't be working, it should not be going to college because if you did that you'd be using up your energy,
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especially during your period. so all of your bodily force is being used up by having a. so if you go to school you're going to rock your uterus out and wouldn't be able to have kids and became infertile was the thinking. if you exert yourself too much mentally or physically during your. some these early women doctors that was one of the big things they were fighting against is the stigma of having a period. they look to the working classes note you can't go to college because you want to be able to have babies later you do not want to use up your life force doing school work. they pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in these early classic ideas they took a
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women, it gathered them, tested their vitality during their periods of the signs to provet. it. >> there is an interesting disparity when it looked at elisabeth and emily they took a slightly different approach from the each other. elizabeth the bat blackwell she would into medicine because she cared deeply about enlightening humanity. she chose strategically to prove that point. the actual practice of medicine and healing humans is interested in advancing certain techniques which was a way of rescuing certain women from a living death the
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blackwell sisters interesting part of the story they end up on the children's shelf all simplified their more interested women's medical education and individual female health. they did a lot about educating women of the tenements of new york about hygiene and child rearing practices and prenatal care i think their primary and most proud achievement was promoting the education of women rather than individual patient care. associate med school and practice it ever get easier for them?
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the three women i profile all have very different paths. they all got into college as a joke she had a relatively easy time they saw her as a big sister figure. once she got to practice and she really had problems getting patients in the first place. making enough money to survive it basically. the others have family money and england was much harder to get a medical degree. in the u.s. at the time was getting an undergrad degree anyone can go if you are man you did not apply it just went they might not ever see the patient because you had your medical degree. luckily the blackwell's understood they needed to go get more training in hospital settings and things like that.
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she had a terrible time should start out as a nurse trainee and sort of asked to attend a class. the medicals were attached to a hospital part she weaseled her way in and say okay can i take this class warm already here? they would get wised with their doings that you need to leave you can't stay here. she went to multiple places doing this. she was cobbling together at what she could and finally did earn her license to practice. she did eventually get an md she went to paris i got her md there. she was quite a celebrity. once she was practicing she had a pretty good practice she had a lot of patient. sophia is another one a really interesting complicated
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character. she had a temper, she was heavy set, she was a lesbian the kind of person history likes to remember. it was her idea it was her baby. should the worst time getting a medical degrees should can i apply and be in your program in medical school? there like we have to do all separate classes we can't do it for just one woman no you can't come. okay if m you need more women i will get more women pick she goes to a newspaper editor and was very sympathetic this a group of women who want to go to medical school and she gets a small group of about seven women goes back to the university says it's more than a one woman can we attend now? they're like oh, okay.
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they go through four years of really intense training. they do all of the classes they need to get a medical degree. at the end of it the university does not give them their md, they will not give it toth them. they're not able to get a license to practice. so they are out of luck. they spent all this time earning a degree but theyy don't actually get in cap practice. many years later sophia does get license and takes the exam and in another country when she fought so hard to open up omto women and take these md qualifying exams. but because of her temper she's pushed out of the school she is established and is not remembered as a person in connection with the school. it's a very sad story for her. >> i would say also even after they received their degrees
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certainly in the case of the blackwell sisters, having an md do not confer any prestige. quite the contrary the plenty of people in polite society in newark really did not want to have anything to do attached md to h her name or speak up the amount physicians at a polite dinner party. i was fine to talk about florence nightingale and nursing. nursing remainedd comfortably within the sphere women should not have it. we start attend but women being doctors, that was unspeakable. i think elizabeth blackwell more so than emily really craved and regretted that struggle she had for prestige and for recognition. emily was much more drawn to just doing the work of medical practice i wanted to get on with it and let other people leave her alone. as a very poignant part of the work she did did not win her
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the recognition that a man and her position would have enjoyed. >> it seems like elizabeth really grappled with legacy and thought a lot about what this meant for the practice of medicine. >> she happened to pick this be able to be anything not just be the assistant being the nurses. where you make it so hard for yourself? go be a nurse like women are supposed to be. that's not the point the goat dressed as a man. that is notst the point the point is to be a woman to be a doctor, to be in charge and not be the assistant.
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>> wonderful we have some questions coming in went to make sure we get to as many as we can how to read things things might be different in texas and elsewhere regarding the body rights of people if they were more women and non- binary people in medicine both now and historically. >> that is a big question. i think the issues in texas and elsewhere have margie with the people in government of the people in the hospitals. i suspect if he spoke to if not most positions would be eager to help their patients however they need to be t helpe. in their constraint had to do with the law and not the medical side.
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>> include general concession i have seen both speaking out. should not be restricted. >> do you think the sexism pushed any of them to championing the suffrage movement? should such a fastening character a call or an odd duck. she still had this view of society men and women it being equal not stepping on bended toes by achieving it she
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thought it would be harmonious and oil received. >> in addition, first of all she is not much of a team player and the idea of collaborating was not her cup of tea. i think her primary beef with the suffragists they were not suffragists when they were there they were the emerging women's rights movement. the first priority of that movement was the very first party were vote for women. i don't think was against vote for women she just did w not think it made any sense to give it women the vote before they learn they could think independently from their men. if you gave women the vote before any of the other work, wouldn't they both the way the men told them to? to her that felt very much heart cart before the horse. >> was a member of one of the earliest women's organizations ndin london.
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she was definitely more of an organizer and women's advocate than blackwell was. i feel inherently what these women did their advocating for greater women's rights. by that sheer fact of what they were doing. >> certain medical practices still assume is a variant on that. how has that changed from the women you wrote about? what else needs to happen? >> not enough i think the joke is the norm is a guy namedof norm a white guy of middle height is not changing quickly
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enough. >> we definitely need more pregnant people in future studies. there is not near enough pregnant people in any kind of research. they're kind of scared, kind of a taboo thing. >> very true. whether think site when i'm reading a book is what got left? what was on the cutting room floor you found interesting but cannot find a way to work it in? >> the beginning of this book idea was an essay that got published separately what i left outft column. it was at epic seen a variety
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that happened. i wanted originally to talk about a lot more women than i did include in the book. i want to talk about the women's medical college of pennsylvania thousand around the same time as elizabeth blackwell's in new york. there's a lot of fastening women their toys settled on the threat of these women workingg together. soso i had this amazing scene i found so much great material to put together of what female medical students come to a surgical demonstration lecture there's 300 mail medical students waiting for them during tinfoil, throwing spit balls tobacco juice on their dresses, dish yelling nasty, nasty things at them. just crazy rights because
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these women what to do be trained as doctors. i felt like it really set the stage for exactly what these women are going through.s in the end it did not fit in with the narrative of these three women. it had to come out. >> the great scene. for f me, the part of the book was the story of elisabeth and emily blackwell together. as of 1870 they found their institutions in new york they parted ways and spent the last 40 years of their lives on separate continents one went back to britain emily stayed in new york ran the institutions they founded. both of them lead a fascinating lives after 1870. but it really wanted this book tv aou double portrait and you cannot necessarily write a double biography of nip two separate lives going on. the action of the book ends in
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1870 and there is so much fascinating stuff beyond that. both emily being a surgeon and medical professor and running a hospital having a female partner adopting a child. pursuant reform in england with venereal disease and figuring into some increasingly eccentric pursuits being anti- vax. more and more pro spiritualism which was an avid there is lots of juicy stuff that's probably another book. >> i think a double biography is a lot to work with already. last question, the theme of the national book festival is open, open thebo world. how have books open the world for you? >> growing up i did not have a
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lot of money. we did have a library the newest by name. when the children's librarians live next door to the house next to us it was like knowing celebrity, it was fantastic. every week there is no limits on how many books we could get out. reading was such a huge part of my childhood. it never felt like we were poor will may have those books. with the stories, we have the mysteries, nancy drew. all of those children's books helped so much. it really open the world to me for sure. >> i had similar bookworm childhoodm. as an adult discover the arc has a different kind of labor of the different vibrate inar charge. no work fewer or deeper worlds to explore. it took me a long time to realize his true stories about people. if you can dig down into the
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things they left behind and share the voices you really can travel in time. that is on myy favorite things to do is lose myself in the world contained in archives and time travel. >> thank you for bringing us along with you as readers. start sorry to say we are out of time. fthank you both for sharing your time with the so generously and thanks of the audience for all your questions. i hope you keep enjoying the national book festival. >> thank you so much for having me. >> thank you it was great. >> with the senate at a session joined us all this week for book tv. tonight a look at recent bestsellers we will hear from authors and journalists including bob woodward and robert costa on the latest apparel. after that it's victor david hanson in his book the dying citizen. later conservative commentator glenn superior on the authoritarian movement that
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