Before Mary Elizabeth Garrett and the Women’s Fund Committee funded the opening of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1893, women were not allowed to attend Johns Hopkins University to pursue a degree. Women were allowed to be present for public lectures, however the president of the university did not believe it was appropriate for women to be accepted to the university on an equal basis with men. This changed after Johns Hopkins was unable to open their medical school in 1889 due to lack of funding, as their B&O Railroad stock stopped paying dividends before the project started, prompting Mary Elizabeth Garrett and the ladies of the Women’s Fund Committee to fund the medical school on the basis that women would be accepted on the same terms as men. In the first class of the medical school, three of the students were women out of eighteen total students.
Articles from newspapers during this time, including the Baltimore Sun, reveal the necessity for women to be accepted to universities on an equal basis with men, as well as describe the positive impact their acceptances had for the community, as it gave women in the area a local opportunity to pursue a medical degree. Garrett and her associates’ work also changed the way many people viewed the nature of women, deconstructing the notion that women were too “weak” to handle the strain of medical school.
The leading ladies of this movement, Mary Elizabeth Garrett and Martha Carey Thomas, paved a path of liberation and social reform for women throughout the nation. There was much opposition from men who were studying within the institution, as well as from men across the country who did not want to receive an education alongside women and believed that women should only be domestic and only have a place in raising the family. These women fought for their rights to be able to receive further medical education, allowing women across the nation to receive further education.
These women’s feminist ideals allowed for other women to begin their transition into a progression and further developed the women’s movement because it showed that women could also seek a higher education, just like men. They showed that educational success was not restricted to just men and defied the odds by being steadfast and relentless with their goals and ambitions. Because of their desire to achieve this greatness it resulted in large impacts within the women’s movement which resulted in multiple admissions into medical schools and other graduate schools for women across the nation.