continued on next page
address to the freshman class of 1913, she said, “Women
physicians are being sought as assistants to busy specialists
in ophthalmology, laryngology, and otology. Such positions
are particularly desirable for the young physician, for she
has an opportunity to learn and at the same time to build
up a practice [for] herself.” 21 She mentored many female
students, including Louise Mason Ingersoll, a 1914 graduate of WMCP who used the otolaryngological knowledge
she acquired from Dr. Butler to perform mission work in
Shanghai, China, related specifically to the treatment of
ear, nose, and throat pathologies. 22 As a respected, highly
competent otolaryngologist and an ambassador of the specialty, Dr. Butler provided a blueprint for generations of
future female otolaryngologists.
Succeeding in a male-dominated field
Emily Lois Van Loon, MD, succeeded Dr. Butler as the
head of the department of otolaryngology at WMCP. A
practicing otolaryngologist and an inventor within the
field, Dr. Van Loon, along with Chevalier Jackson, MD, is
credited with the development of the bronchoscope and
bronchoscopic removal of foreign bodies. 23 Notably, due
to her treatment of police officers and firefighters in her
otolaryngology clinic in Philadelphia, coupled with her
groundbreaking presence as a woman in the field, Dr. Van
Loon received the Elizabeth Blackwell Award from the
New York Infirmary. This award is presented annually to
a woman physician who shares two main qualities with
Elizabeth Blackwell, namely “conspicuous professional
achievement in a previously male-dominated occupation”
and “achieve[ment] and serv[ice].” 24 Dr. Van Loon achieved
great success within the field of otolaryngology and provided a model for women otolaryngologists today.
Eleanor Maxine Bennett, MD, similarly defied the
odds to become a well-accomplished otolaryngologist.
After graduating as one of only four women in her medical school class at the Medical School at the University of
Nebraska, Omaha, in 1942, Dr. Bennett served as professor
and chair of otolaryngology at the University of Wisconsin (UW), Madison, in 1963. She is considered to be the
first woman chairperson in any department among all
major medical schools within the U.S, and she earned the
WOMEN IN OTOLARYNGOLOGY
1. Withington ET. Medical History from the Earliest Times:
A Popular History of the Healing Art. London: The
Scientific Press, Ltd; 1894: 14-24.
2. El-Rashidy A, El-Sayed M. ENT practice in pharaonic
medicine part 1: Pharaonic otologist. Internat Conf
3. Stiefel M, Shaner A, Schaefer SD. The Edwin Smith
Papyrus: The birth of analytical thinking in medicine
and otolaryngology. Laryngoscope. 2006; 116( 2):182-188.
4. Amr SS, Tbakhi A. Abu Al Qasim Al Zahrawi
(Albucasis): Pioneer of modern surgery. Ann of Saudi
Med. 2007; 27( 3):220-221.
5. Rosner F (ed). Surgical Aphorisms, in The Medical
Legacy of Moses Maimonides. Hoboken, NJ: KV TA
Publishing House, Inc.; 1998: 41-70.
6. Helidonis ES. The history of otolaryngology
from ancient to modern times. Amer J Otolaryng.
1993; 14( 6):382-393.
7. Pastena JA. Women in surgery: An ancient tradition.
Arch Surg. 1993; 128( 6):622-626.
8. Dawson I (ed). Medicine in ancient Egypt in The
History of Medicine: Prehistoric and Egyptian Medicine.
New York, N Y: Enchanted Lion Books; 2005: 38-47.
9. Parker HM. Women Doctors in Greece, Rome, and the
Byzantine Empire, in Women Healers and Physicians.
Lilian R Furst, ed. Lexington, KY: The University Press
of Kentucky; 1997:131-150.
10. Lerner G (ed). The Educational Disadvantaging of
Women, in The Creation of Feminist Consciousness from
the Middle Ages to Eighteen-Seventy. New York, N Y:
Oxford University Press, Inc.; 1993: 21-45.
11. McVaugh MR (ed). The Status of Women’s Practice,
in Medicine Before the Plague: Practitioners and Their
Patients in the Crown of Aragon 1285-1345. New York, N Y:
Cambridge University Press; 1993: 103-107.
12. Ward J (ed). Women and Work: Medical Care, Nursing,
and Prostitution, in Women in Medieval Europe: 1200-1500.
London, UK: Routledge; 2002: 94-109.
13. Tsoucalas G, Karamanou M, Androutsos G.
Metrodora, an innovative gynecologist, midwife, and
surgeon. Surg Innovation. 2013; 20( 6):648-649.
14. Green MH. Books as a source of medical education for
women in the middle ages. Dynamis. 2000;20:331-369.