National Women's History Month 2024

06 March 2024

Exploring pivotal women in medical history, this article commemorates Women's History Month by highlighting their groundbreaking contributions to healthcare and the advancement of medicine.

National Women's History Month 2024

March 2024 is National Women’s History Month, a dedication to women’s courage and impact on society across fields. This year’s theme celebrates ‘Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’, in recognition of those who have worked towards building a positive future that eliminates bias and discrimination from our lives and institutions (1).

Here we explore some significant contributions made by women within the medical field across history- bringing pioneers of the past to the present. Although, before delving in, it is important for us to recognise our own history at Limbs & Things, and our present-day pioneer, Margot Cooper – founder and president of Limbs & Things. Margot had a vision in the 1990’s to improve clinical education in medicine, which led her in her developments of medical task trainers and establishing Limbs & Things. You can read more about our history here.


Dr Elizabeth Blackwell

Bristol-born Dr Elizabeth Blackwell was a physician through the 19th century. She contributed greatly to the education and acceptance of women in medicine, which earned her a medical degree in the US and made her the first woman to be on the Medical Register of the General Medical Council in the UK (2). The annual awarding of the ‘Elizabeth Blackwell Medal’ honours one woman every year for outstanding contributions to the cause of women in medicine by the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) (3), a lasting tribute to Blackwell’s efforts in establishing gender equality within the medical field.

Clara Barton

As a nurse during the American Civil War, Clare Harlow Barton distributed supplies to soldiers in the Union Army, which started her life-long career in aiding people in times of conflict and disaster (4). In 1881, she founded the relief organization American Red Cross, where her legacy lives on today to offer emergency assistance and disaster relief across the nation (5). Barton’s humanitarian work advocated women’s inclusion in the medical field, and demonstrated forward-thinking at a time when women did not even have the right to vote. Warzone medicine is always evolving, and since 2019 we have been supplying the David Nott Foundation with our products to help the charity train doctors in conflict zones like Ukraine, Iraq, Palestine, and Yemen. Our cutting-edge products, such as our PROMPT Flex birthing simulator are vital for training medical professionals. The Deeply Impacted Foetal Head module trains doctors to safely deliver babies who become stuck in their mother’s pelvis during birth, and the c-section model in a dark skin tone accurately represents the mothers in many of the regions where the David Nott Foundation works.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Lee Crumpler paved the way in the US, during the 19th century, as the first African American woman to receive a medical degree and become a medical doctor (6). Her pursuit of a medical career challenged societal norms and the many prejudices against both her gender and race. Crumpler was also dedicated to providing equal and diverse healthcare, as she recognised the urgent need for medical care amongst the African American community in South America (7). In her commitment to helping all those in need, Crumpler’s contributions laid the foundations for great diversity and inclusion in the medical profession. There is still work to be done in this area – for example, maternal mortality for Black women is currently almost four times higher than for White women (8).  We offer over 90% of our products in a dark skin tone as well as light, not only to represent the patients the health professionals work on but also because, for example, skin conditions tend to look different on different skin tones, and it can be harder to find veins on people with darker skin. In the USA and UK, the dark skin tone products now account for over a third of our top selling lines.

Constance Stone

Constance Stone was the first woman to be registered with the Medical Board of Victoria in 1890, and later she founded the Queen Victoria Hospital – the first hospital exclusively for women (9). Stone's legacy is a testament to her unwavering commitment to gender equality in the medical field and her enduring impact on women's healthcare. As we commemorate National Women's History Month, Constance Stone's contributions serve as an inspiration for future generations, highlighting the importance of perseverance and the pursuit of gender parity in all fields.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the first woman to qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon. She advocated women’s rights to professional education, particularly in medicine, and became the first female dean of a British medical school, the London School of Medicine for Women (10). In 1872 she founded the New Hospital for Women in London which was staffed entirely by women and later went on to be renamed in her honour as the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital (11). In the face of adversity, her contributions within the medical field were courageous and reflected a wider significance in advocating women in the roles of medical professionals.


National Women’s History Month is an important time of year to reflect upon the countless contributions made by women throughout history. Through exploring the achievements of the women in this article, we can see how the medical field have progressed in its inclusivity to women. However, gender bias and misrepresentation of women in medical leadership roles presents the ongoing challenges faced by women today, in which we must recommit to creating a future where every woman's potential is recognized, valued, and celebrated not just in March, but every day of the year.

Share with us on social media which women from history you’ll be celebrating this month and remember to tag us!


(1) National History's History Alliance

(2) Britannica: Elizabeth Blackwell Biography

(3) AMWA: Elizabeth Blackwell Award

(4) WomensHistory: Clara Barton Biography

(5) American Red Cross: Clara Barton

(6) WomensHistory: Rebecca Lee Crumpler

(7) Britannica: Rebecca Lee Crumpler Biography

(8) UK Parliament: Black Maternal Health

(9) RACGP: The Secret History of Our Medical Women

(10) Britannica: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Biography

(11) BBC History: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson