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Women in Medical Research – A History of Innovation

Before we begin, I want to ask you a simple question. Who is your favourite female scientist?

Hmm… Okay. Maybe that question is not so simple!

If you can’t think of one – don’t feel bad! Lots of people cannot name a female scientist. According to a survey released on International Women’s Day in 2019, the non-profit organization Girls Who Code found that more than half of Canadians surveyed could not name a female scientist or engineer.

Why is that? And no, the answer is not because women do not contribute to or participate in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (simply known as STEM). In this exhibit, we are going to show you just the opposite!

The history of STEM in Canada is full of women who have made important and worthwhile contributions to their specialized fields. Women in STEM have faced lots of different challenges and barriers that made their success more difficult. By no fault of their own, these women often remain hidden in history – just waiting to be discovered by curious people like you!

With the help of historical materials, we will bring to light the inspiring stories of a group of trailblazing female scientists at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital. These women overcame adversity to make significant contributions to medical research during the first half of the 20th century. You will also be introduced to today’s women scientists who are carrying on this pioneering work. They are waiting to pass the torch to the next generation of scientists – young women, just like you!

A black and white photo of a woman in a lab coat working with vials and pipettes in a lab. A black and white photo of two women in lab coats studying a vial that one is holding. A black and white photo of a woman in a lab coat pouring a clear liquid from one beaker to another. She is framed by two other women in the foreground.

Click on each image above to learn more about the photos in the banner!

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An exhibit by The Miss Margaret Robins Archives of Women’s College Hospital.