Sympathy and Science

Women Physicians in American Medicine

By Regina Morantz-Sanchez

With a new preface by the author

504 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, appends., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4890-6
    Published: August 2000
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7378-1
    Published: October 2005
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7608-4
    Published: October 2005

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Awards & distinctions

1987 History of Women in Science Prize, History of Science Society

When first published in 1985, Sympathy and Science was hailed as a groundbreaking study of women in medicine. It remains the most comprehensive history of American women physicians available. Tracing the participation of women in the medical profession from the colonial period to the present, Regina Morantz-Sanchez examines women's roles as nurses, midwives, and practitioners of folk medicine in early America; recounts their successful struggles in the nineteenth century to enter medical schools and found their own institutions and organizations; and follows female physicians into the twentieth century, exploring their efforts to sustain significant and rewarding professional lives without sacrificing the other privileges and opportunities of womanhood.

In a new preface, the author surveys recent scholarship and comments on the changing world of women in medicine over the past two decades. Despite extraordinary advances, she concludes, women physicians continue to grapple with many of the issues that troubled their predecessors.

About the Author

Regina Morantz-Sanchez is professor of history at the University of Michigan. Her books include Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: Medicine on Trial in Turn-of-the-Century Brooklyn and In Her Own Words: Oral Histories of Women Physicians.

For more information about Regina Morantz-Sanchez, visit the Author Page.


"A landmark in the field. . . . It will have perceptible impact on feminism, on historical scholarship, and on medicine itself."--Women's Review of Books

"An incisive history of the struggle of women to become doctors in this country. . . . Besides its feminist interest, [the book] opens out into general considerations of the medical profession today."--Newsweek

"This is the first study to examine these events in the proper context and to connect the masculinization of medicine with two other transformations, scientific and professional. It also tells a good story, with anecdotes as well as generalizations and with neither exaggeration nor simplification."--New York Times Book Review

"An absorbing and richly detailed account. The author . . . is especially good at detailing the many currents and counter-currents that affected the course of women seeking professional careers. . . . More than a feminist/medical history, this is an excellent reflection on the changing scene of American culture and values."--Kirkus Reviews

"In this book, the author accomplishes what historians have attempted to do with only partial success: she delineates the intricate role of women physicians in America from Victorian times to the present without demeaning their struggles toward two ideals that often seem to be in conflict: feminism and femininity. In this elegant study, Morantz-Sanchez analyzes what made these women tick, as professionals, as doctors, and as women."--New England Journal of Medicine

"A work of major significance. It is an important contribution to what ought to continue to be a dynamic exploration into the history of women doctors in America."--Journal of American History