Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?
The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell

By Tanya Lee Stone

In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly no women were doctors.

But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally—when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career—proved her detractors wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.

Lesson Plans

"My goal always as a teacher is to have students connect with the material on a personal level first, which I tried to reflect in these activities, and then return to the essential questions of the book," says Mary Nolin, Connections Program Manager.

Share and enjoy this video of Mary Nolin reading "Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?" by clicking the "play" button above. For questions or ideas for your learners, please contact Mary Nolin at mnolin@nhhumanities.org.