Women's Equality Day: Dr. Emily Stowe

Emily Stowe think dirty app women's equality day

Happy #WomensEqualityDay! Despite the gender inequalities that still exist in today’s society, we are happy to highlight the intellectual and capable women that inspire us. One of which is Dr. Emily Stowe, Canada’s first female doctor and a tireless fighter for women’s rights.

Born in 1831, Emily Stowe (born Emily Jennings) was raised in Ontario. Her mother, an American-educated woman, was so unhappy with the quality of education for girls that she decided to take matters into her own hands - she taught all of her children herself. At 15, Emily followed in her mother’s teaching footsteps and taught in a one-room house for seven years. 

When Emily was 22, she applied for admission to Victoria College and was rejected simply because she was female. It was this incident that sparked her passion to strive for equal rights. Despite her rejection to Victoria College, Emily was accepted to Toronto’s Normal School for Upper Canada - one of the few schools open to women then. Here she thrived, graduating with first-class honours two years later. 

In 1856, she married her husband John Stowe and gave birth to three children over the course of the next seven years. After the birth of her third child, John contracted the respiratory disease tuberculosis. Thus began Emily’s interest in homeopathic medicine, an area of medicine her mother had also studied. Combined with her belief that women doctors were needed immensely, Emily decided to become a physician. Go Emily! 

At 34, Emily decided once again to apply for admission, this time at the Toronto School of Medicine. Once again, Emily had to relive the same fate she received when she applied at 22 - rejection. The reason? “The doors of the University are not open to women”, said by the school’s vice-president. 

Rightfully enraged, Emily did not let this stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a physician. Instead, she went to the New York Medical College for Women in the United States and obtained her degree in 1867. Once her degree was completed, Emily came back to Canada and set up a practice in Toronto - becoming Canada’s first practising female physician in the process. 

Dr. Emily Stowe’s story is one of grit, perseverance, and passion. She inspires the Think Dirty team to never give up on our dreams, no matter the obstacle. Happy Women’s Equality Day to all the great women in the world. Please take a moment to thank all of the great women who have paved the way for equal opportunities today. 

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