Matilde Petra Montoya Lafragua (b. Mexico City, March 14, 1859 – d. Mexico City, January 26, 1939) is said to be the first female physician in Mexico. She was a midwife who graduated Medical School, and earned her doctorate in 1887. There is, however, some evidence that a woman named Zenaida Ucounkoff studied medicine in 1877.
Matilde Montoya was the second daughter of Soledad Lafragua and José María Montoya; however, she was educated as though she were an only child, due to the death of her sister. From a very early age, Matilde began to show interest in studying, thanks to the support and the lessons that her mother gave her. She completed her primary education at the age of 12, but was much too young to enter higher education. She was encouraged by her family (though mostly by her mother), to study gynecology and obstetrics. After the death of her father, Matilde enrolled in the School for Obstetrics and Midwifery. The school was affiliated with the National School of Medicine, and she practiced in the hospital in San Andrés. She was later obligated to abandon this career, due to the economic troubles that faced her family. She then opted to join the School of Midwives and Obstetrics in the House of Maternity, located in the streets of Revillagigedo.
At the age of 16, Montoya received the title of midwife, mostly practicing in Puebla, until she was 18 years old. She worked, in her beginnings, as an auxiliary of surgery under the tutelage of doctors Luis Muñoz and Manuel Soriano. Some doctors led a campaign against her, calling her a Freemason and Protestant. In Puebla, she applied to the School of Medicine, presenting her thesis of her professional record. She fulfilled the requisites for chemistry, physics, zoology, and botany, with which she passed the entrance exam.
When she received her M.D. degree from the Escuela de Medicina de México in 1887, today Facultad de Medicina (College of Medicine) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, President Diaz and his wife appeared in person to congratulate her. The Secretario de Gobernación (Secretary of the Interior) declared her doctor of surgery and obstetrics.
- Laureana Wright de Kleinhans: Mujeres notables mexicanas (Spanish), 1910
- Leonel Rodríguez R.: Homenaje a la Dra. Matilde Montoya (Spanish)