On March 11, 2021, Canadian Women in Medicine will celebrate the first ever Canadian Women Physicians Day. It was on this day in 1875 that Dr. Jennie Trout became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada.
Dr. Trout advocated tirelessly for medical education for women. When a group of male doctors planned to open a medical school for women in Toronto, she offered $10,000 with the condition that women be involved in teaching and leadership at the school. Her offer was refused, so instead she went on to help found the Women’s Medical College in Kingston.
Currently, more than 40% of our country’s physicians are women, and although that proportion is growing, we continue to face gender-based issues like income disparity and discrimination. Sexual harassment has been noted to be higher in medicine than in STEM fields with fewer women, and despite the movement of women into the profession over the past four decades, a thick glass ceiling still holds many of us back from taking leadership roles in health care.
On Canadian Women Physicians Day, we remember the trailblazing women who paved the way and the challenges that they overcame. We celebrate women physicians who are making a difference today, like Dr. Nel Wieman, Canada’s first female Indigenous psychiatrist; Dr. Jane Philpott, the first Canadian doctor to be appointed federal Minister of Health; Dr. Bonnie Henry, the first female Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia, and every woman in medicine who inspires us with their ongoing achievements, their unwavering commitment to their patients and their advocacy.
Canadian Women in Medicine was founded in 2018 to connect and support female physicians in a way that allows them to thrive in all aspects of their lives: professional and personal. Our vision is to create a connected force of female physicians that will not only advocate for one another professionally, but also support each other in balancing our many other roles. Among our goals are increasing the number of women in medical leadership roles and achieving a work environment that is free from harassment and discrimination.