The pioneers of medicine: Maseras, Castells and Aleu

These days the health personnel is the protagonist of today. After showering them with praise for the worst moments of the pandemic, now doctors, nurses and other health professionals have to do strike to demonstrate the bad conditions with which they work. It should be remembered a thousand times that their demands not only favor them but also society as a whole, that is, each one of us.

Dedicate yourself to medicine (and by extension to any career in the socio-sanitary field) requires a granitic vocation, because in addition to having to dedicate part of the youth to study, later they find some ridiculous conditions in your professional environment. It is shameful that someone who should save our lives has to threaten a strike to be heard.

There was a time when devoting himself to medicine was a reason for respect. It was when people went to the house of the “Mr. Doctor & rdquor;. And therein lies the crux of the matter: it was a male profession. It was considered that women were not sufficiently prepared to exercise it. The feminization of jobs in the healthcare field followed a similar path to the world of education, as we explained a few months ago, and in the long run this affects their social prestige.

In the case of medicine, we know exactly who the pioneers were: Elena Maseras, Martina Castells and Dolors Aleu. They are the protagonists of this week’s Train of History, where we have talked with Bathsheba Garcia, author of “Play Dames. The adventure of the first university women & rdquor ;.

Permission of King Amadeo I

Maseras, born in Vila-seca in 1853, was the one who led the way. There was only one problem: before going to university it was necessary to pass the high school. But when she showed up at the Institute of Tarragona, the director was amazed. She was the first to make that request and he didn’t know how to proceed. In fact, he asked the Madrid authorities if the young woman could continue her training. The case came to office of King Amadeo I, who granted him special permission. Thus, in September 1872, Maseras she became the first woman to set foot in the university. She chose medicine and after six years she had already passed all the subjects. She only had the final exam left to obtain the title and be able to practice.

But once again, the bureaucracy and machismo they crossed his path. As she was a woman, the university considered that she had to request a special permit from the Public Instruction Council of Madrid, which took three years (3!) to tell her that yes, she had the right to take the damn exam. It was 1882. Still and soHe got an A. But it was too late for him to be a doctor. during the wait she had started working as a teacher, occupation that no longer abandoned. Now, his case made things easier for the following: Martina Castells and Dolors Aleu; that they did not have to wait for special permits and in 1882 they not only graduated but also got the ttitle of doctors in medicine. Unfortunately Castells barely had time to practice because she, who wanted to be a pediatrician, died during her pregnancy.

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As García explains to us, the three of them had to meet at the university but we have no documentary trace of their possible friendship. Among other things because Dolors Aleu’s husband burned her documents when she died in 1913. An irreparable loss for the history of science because, beyond being lthe first to dedicate himself professionally to medicine, topped the women’s health study, an unprecedented area in those times. However, thanks to the growing interest in making women’s history visible, her name has been restored even beyond the academic world. One of her most interesting initiatives was the play ‘Barbes de Balena o de què esta fetes les gossip’, performed at the Malda Theater. One of the actresses of the show, Nuria Cuyasis a direct descendant of Dr. Aleu and in the podcast she shares the sensations she had when she stepped on the stage to honor her ancestor.

From the outside, it may seem that 21st century doctors have it easier, but it is not. The doctor Angels Escorsell, president of the association Metgesses of Catalonia speaks clearly for the Train of History: women have much more difficulties when accessing positions of responsibility. It is enough to look at the directors of hospitals in our country. Why are there more men in charge than women, if the profession is mostly female?

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