Exhibition: This vexed question: 500 years of women in medicine

This exhibition runs from Wed, 19th Sep 2018 to Fri, 18th Jan 2019. See all dates

This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include:

This exhibition has finished.

Coronavirus: Events may be cancelled and venues closed at short notice, you are advised to check on their websites before making a trip.

Cost: Free of Charge

Female apothecaries, herbalists, writers of medicinal recipes, midwives - and of course women doctors – all have worked within a male-dominated world for many centuries. Yet their roles have often been obscured and always provoked vehement debate. Debate which still continues in some quarters to the present day.

Taking its title from the remarks of a male medical student who, in 1870, bemoaned the ‘vexed question’ of women in the medical professions, these displays explore the controversy that has raged over female practitioners throughout the centuries.

Revisiting questions raised in the Victorian era:

Should women be allowed to train as doctors? Were they physically and mentally capable? Was there space for them in the profession? How would their male colleagues react?

Venturing further back in time, the exhibition will lead the visitor in search of Britain’s first women doctors. From 12th century manuscripts to Tudor college annals, 17th century advertisements for women physicians to the fascinating stories of Dr James Barry (born Margaret Ann Bulkley), Mademoiselle Cavania and Dr Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, rarely-seen documents and artefacts illuminate an often untold narrative of women working in the medical professions since the medieval world.

Female physicians from the era describe experiences in 20th century and modern day medical practice in their own words, bringing an essential personal perspective.

The exhibition raises compelling and challenging questions around gender and medicine: questions which continue to ‘vex’ into the 21st century.

Contact and Booking Details

More information at this website.

No need to book tickets - just turn up on the day.


Royal College Of Physicians,

11 St Andrews Place,
Regent's Park,

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