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Women in Medicine

 

Each year, Penn Medicine alumnae, female students, faculty and house staff come together for an evening of celebration and community at the annual Elizabeth Kirk Rose, M.D., Women in Medicine Event.

Named for its founder, the event provides students and physicians opportunities for networking, mentoring, camaraderie and career support. Discussion topics include issues confronted regularly by women in medicine, such as balancing work and family life, and overcoming professional and gender barriers.

Background

In 1918, Drs. Gladys Girardeau and Alberta Peltz became the first women awarded the Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. More than 40 years later, in 1962, Dr. Elizabeth Kirk Rose, a 1926 alumna, and Kathryn Popowniak, then a fourth-year medical student, gathered together Penn’s few alumnae and female medical students for a picnic.  From those humble beginnings sprang the annual Women in Medicine Dinner celebration, which was named in honor of Dr. Rose in 1998. Dr. Rose died on February 23, 2008, just a few months shy of her 107th birthday. 

About Elizabeth Kirk Rose, M.D.

Elizabeth Kirk Rose came to Penn after four years at the University of Wisconsin. At Penn, she met and became engaged to a colleague and alumnus, Dr. Edward Rose, M’21. After graduating from medical school in 1926, Elizabeth Kirk Rose completed her internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and her residency at Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Rose maintained a private practice in pediatrics. She also served on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and as chief of the Division of Maternal and Child Health in the Philadelphia Department of Public Health from 1950 to 1956. Upon Dr. Rose’s retirement in 1974, she was named emeritus professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1983, she received the Distinguished Graduate Award, the highest honor the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania bestows upon an alumnus. 

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Firsts for Women in Medicine

[1918]
The first two women students, Gladys Girardeau, M.D., and Alberta Peltz, M.D., graduate from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

[1952]
Emily Mudd, Ph.D., only the third woman to be named to the faculty of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, becomes Penn’s first female full professor.

[1962]
Dr. Elizabeth Kirk Rose, M’26, initiates a modest gathering of female students and alumnae. This first women’s event is the impetus for the annual Women in Medicine Dinner. In 1998, the celebration is named the Elizabeth Kirk Rose, M.D., Women in Medicine Dinner, in her honor.

[1968]
Helen O. Dickens, M.D., the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s first African-American female full professor, establishes the Office of Minority Affairs.

[1996]
The first women are appointed to serve as department chairs: Priscilla A. Schaeffer, Ph.D., Microbiology, and Marjorie A. Bowman, M.D., Family Practice and Community Medicine.

[1997]
Dr. Gail Morrison, M’71, vice dean for education, leads the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania into the 21st century with the launch of Virtual Curriculum 2000, an innovative technology-based learning program — the first of its kind.

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