RCGP online exhibition celebrates women in general practice

An online exhibition celebrating women’s contribution to general practice over the past 150 years and highlighting discrimination has been launched by the RCGP.

RCGP president Professor Amanda Howe (Photo: Grainge Photography)
RCGP president Professor Amanda Howe (Photo: Grainge Photography)

The ‘Women at the heart of general practice’ exhibition documents the experiences of women GPs and those who work in the wider practice team - exploring changes in the profession since formal medical qualifications were first opened up to women.

The eight themes of the exhibition explore the contribution of women to general practice, and look at how a majority female GP workforce in England has helped to improve care for women.

It also documents some of the prejudice and discrimination encountered by women who have entered medicine, as well as examining current issues, such as the gender pay gap and poor representation in senior positions.

Women in general practice

Stories from the RCGP’s own collections are shared as part of the exhibition - including making clips from its own oral history collections publicly available for the first time - and those of female healthcare professionals in the present day.

Today, over 50% of general practitioners are women, and four women have held the post of chair and five the post of president at the RCGP. By contrast, in 1859, Dr Elizabeth Blackwell was only woman listed in the first British medical register.

Speaking about the launch of the exhibition, RCGP president Professor Amanda Howe said: ‘Women have had a long and contested route into fulfilling their potential as doctors.

‘I am proud that the RCGP has created this exhibition, which shows us some of the history and context of this journey and allows us to celebrate the contribution of women GPs to the profession and patient care. I am sure it will raise as many interesting questions as it answers and look forward to discussing these.

Women as patients

‘The pandemic has taught us that human effort and persistence can overcome adversity and lead to change. Women in general practice have shown that to be true – and patient care, the profession and the college itself are all the better for us.’

Exhibition curator Briony Hudson, said: ‘Researching the accounts of women working in historical and contemporary general practice reveals a fascinating range of stories, artworks and objects which I'm excited to share via this online exhibition.

‘This project is not just about women doctors, it is a chance to consider women patients, practice managers, primary care pharmacists, and wives amongst many others. It has made me appreciate how much general practice was and is a team effort.’

‘Women at the heart of general practice’ is available on the RCGP’s website, alongside a series of online events, and social media projects. An in-person display showcasing related content will follow in the coming months, COVID-19 dependent.

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