Orthopedics is the medical specialty with the lowest percentage of women: only 14% of current orthopedic residents are women. Diversity is critical to providing culturally appropriate care, and many initiatives are in place to improve access for women in orthopedics. Below is information on a few of the many women in history who have had a profound impact on women pursuing an orthopedic career.
The first woman board-certified orthopedic surgeon in the United States, Dr. Ruth Jackson, is prominent in orthopedic history. She was one of only four women among more than 100-first year students at the Baylor University College of Medicine. Her goal was to become a general surgeon, but general surgery internships were unavailable for women. She accepted the opportunity to train in orthopedic surgery and eventually opened a private practice. She became the first certified woman on the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. The Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society was opened in 1983 to support women in orthopedics.
Marian Frauenthal Slone
Dr. Marian Frauenthal Slone was the first woman licensed in orthopedic surgery in New York and one of the first in the United States in the 1930s. She was the first woman, specifically of Jewish background, to publish in a peer-reviewed orthopedic journal. She paved the way for many women in orthopedics and helped advance the field. The Marian Frauenthal Sloane orthopedic scholarship was created in her honor; it allows a female resident or medical student to attend the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting.
Dr. Jacquelin Perry became a role model for women in medicine throughout her life. She served as a physical therapist in World War II for five years. She was one of the first women certified as an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Perry was recruited in 1955 to the Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center to launch a physical therapy program. She treated patients with severe spinal and respiratory muscle paralysis. She is considered the “Grand Dame of Orthopedics” and was recognized for her monumental contributions to orthopedics.
Dr. Claudia Thomas is the first African American female orthopedist and the first woman to graduate from Yale University’s Orthopedic Program in 1975. In 1981, she served as assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. She has inspired many women to walk into more remarkable achievements. Thomas was given the Diversity Award from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 2008.