Historical Women of Otolaryngology

Historical Women of Otolaryngology

Women of Otolaryngology

Image Courtesy of Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons

March is National Women’s History Month, which was created to highlight the roles and contributions to culture, science, and history that women have made. Still, in many cases, those contributions have been overlooked or marginalized. The field of Otolaryngology is sadly much the same. For the entire history of medicine in general, women were there from the beginning contributing to knowledge and techniques. Many of the procedures of otolaryngology are over five thousand years old, and there are many women pioneers in the field. This month we would like to highlight some of the most prolific women of otolaryngology in history.

Women of Otolaryngology: Women Pioneers in History

Frau von Tesingen

Another woman whose legacy would have been lost, saved by her prolific writings and documentations preserved in 13th-century German medical textbooks. Tesingen contributed various medicinal treatments for auricular pathologies.

Dr. Margaret F. Butler, MD

Dr. Butler graduated from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1894. She became a legend in the field, designing tools and developing techniques that revolutionized the medical care of the ears, nose, and throat.

Dr. Emily Lois Van Loon, MD

Following in the footsteps of Dr. Butler, Dr. Van Loon graduated in 1928 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, one of the first women to receive a degree of Master of Medical Science. She also developed tools and techniques that have become staples of otolaryngology.

Dr. Eleanor Maxine Bennett, MD

Considered the first woman chairperson at a major medical school, Dr. Bennett accumulated many firsts in her carrier after earning her degree from the Medical School at the University of Nebraska in 1942. Dr. Bennet created an otolaryngology residency at the University of Wisconsin that is still going today.

While this article is not nearly long enough to highlight the many contributions women have made to otolaryngology and medicine, the fact remains that only by remembering the heroes of the past, whose struggle for equity and innovation is universal, can we find the best way forward towards a better tomorrow.

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