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Irish Medical Education and Student Culture, c.1850-1950$
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Laura Kelly

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940599

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940599.001.0001

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‘This Feminine Invasion of Medicine’: Women in Irish Medical Schools, c.1880–1945

‘This Feminine Invasion of Medicine’: Women in Irish Medical Schools, c.1880–1945

(p.170) 6 ‘This Feminine Invasion of Medicine’: Women in Irish Medical Schools, c.1880–1945
Irish Medical Education and Student Culture, c.1850-1950

Laura Kelly

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the experiences of women who studied at Irish medical schools and hospitals from the 1880s to 1940s. Previous research has suggested that the first generation of female medical students at Irish institutions had largely positive educational experiences and were treated in a paternalistic and supportive manner by their professors and fellow students, in contrast with their counterparts in Britain. However, in spite of this, it is clear that Victorian arguments against women studying medicine prevailed. In the student press, female medical students were presented as the ‘other’ and characterised as studious, bookish, cold, defeminised or alternately as obsessed or unconcerned with their appearances. It is clear, that although women and men were largely educated together for all subjects, with the exception of anatomy dissections, that women occupied a separate social sphere from the male students. Drawing on student magazines, Irish doctors’ memoirs, newspapers and the minute books of medical student societies, this chapter evaluates attitudes to women studying medicine and the educational and extra-curricular experiences of these women and how they fitted in within a very masculine sphere. In addition, this chapter will also explore women’s day-to-day student lives and the challenges they faced in pursuit of their education.

Keywords:   women medical students, student culture, medical education, Ireland, medical schools

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