Some reference to the unpleasant aspects of their stories is necessary to understand - at least on a rudimentary level - the challenges and sometimes extraordinary barriers that were placed in front of these women by the faculty, administration, and, occasionally, by classmates. For a dean who comes along a generation or two later to exploit stories taken out of temporal or societal context would hardly be appropriate. I am, therefore, reluctant to sit in absolute judgment, knowing that our modern-day sins of omission or commission may also one day be considered egregious.
Nonetheless, some stories do haunt us, even 50 to
90 years later: for example, the assignment of foul-smelling, gangrenous cadavers to woman students for dissection;
the exclusion of ambulatory or farriery privileges to women students; the complete lack of locker rooms for women,
who had to change in the women's bathroom; and the occasional practice of misinforming female students of the actual
times of examinations or assignments.
Throughout science and medicine, the historical record provides as much instruction as contemporary discoveries. As a profession, we would be stronger if we were better acquainted with that record, and if we patterned more of our conduct upon an understanding of those who came before us.