Blanche Edwards-Pilliet, 1888
|Died||1941 (aged 82–83)|
Blanche Edwards-Pilliet 1858–1941) was a French physician, medical teacher, and leading social reformer for women. She, along with Augusta Déjerine-Klumpke, was one of the first women to intern at a hospital in Paris.
Edwards-Pilliet was home-schooled by her well-educated British father, Doctor George Hugh Edwards. She grew up speaking both French and English and learning mathematics, science, and the classics. After taking the baccalauréat-ès-lettres in 1877 and the baccalauréat-ès-sciences in 1878, she was able to enroll in the faculty of medicine in Paris at the age of 19.
Career and later life
In 1885, when Edwards-Pilliet applied to be a hospital intern, over 90 doctors and interns signed a petition against it because she was a woman. However, the Paris municipal council allowed her case to be heard. On July 31, French lawyer Eugène Poubelle signed her case, allowing her to work in Parisian hospitals on the condition that she did not use their intern title to enter the final exams to be a doctor. She did.
Edwards-Pilliet's specialty was surgery. Despite fierce competition, especially since she was a woman, her prize-winning dissertation helped her create her first consulting room in 1889, where she worked for the next 50 years. In 1892, she married, and she would go on to have three children. She also taught school medicine, despite receiving low pay. In fact, she was the only woman of her time offered a medical teaching post by the Assistance Publique (Public Hospital System).
She died in 1941 at the age of 82.
An outspoken feminist, Edwards-Pilliet spent much of her time advocating for social reform, principally for women and children. Examples of her In 1901, Edwards-Pilliet founded The Ligue des Mères de Famille, one of the first Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) from which many of France's social organizations later developed. She was also a member of the Parti radical, which advocated for women's suffrage, and in 1930, she was elected vice president of one of their Paris sections. She also became Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honour) in 1924.
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