21 April 2011

Woman of the Week: Dr. James Miranda Barry

1789 - 1865

So this week's woman is a little controversial. Dr. James Miranda Barry was born, Margaret Ann Bulkley. With her mother and other elevated societal member's blessing she altered her appearance to that of a man so she could attend medical school. At that time, only men were allowed to become surgeons. 

When she finished her schooling, instead of moving to Venezuela (the general that was supporting her was jailed) she decided to stay and keep the male disguise. She spent 13 years in Cape Colony (South Africa) as the personal assistant to the governor. He was a close family friend, who later would be accused of having a homosexual relationship with the doctor (because everyone thought the doctor was a man).

More so than just becoming the first female medical graduate, she performed the first successful c.section where mother and baby survived. She introduced a smallpox vaccine 20 years before England had it. In two years during the Crimean war, she lost only 17 of 460 wounded soldiers when other posts were losing 20 a day. 

She had a knack for breaking rules and challenging authority, hindering the gain of recognition and acclaim. Florence Nightingale even rallied for the doctor's re-assignment.  

This week is dedicated to a woman who did what it took to have the career she wanted in a society that wouldn't give it to her.

*Just found out there will be a movie released about this remarkable woman called "Heaven & Earth" in 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment