Mary Edwards Walker, or Dr. Mary Walker, was the only female surgeon who served injured soldiers during the American Civil War. A dress reform supporter, she believed women should value comfort more than tradition when it came to clothes. She was also the first and only Medal of Honor winner.
Chilean politician Michelle Bachelet serves as 7th United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She became the first female politician in Chilean history who was elected as the country’s President and the first elected female leader in South America. She served as the 33rd and 35th President of Chile and held several other prominent positions during her expansive political career.
The second female U.S. surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders is a renowned pediatrician and one of the first Black women to reach the pinnacle of the medical field in the U.S. She has been dragged into multiple controversies, one of them being a result of her support for sex education and masturbation.
The first female doctor and surgeon of Britain, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was initially denied admission to medical schools because of her gender and had thus started studying privately. Soon after joining the Marylebone Dispensary as an attendant, she contributed to the formation of the New Hospital for Women.
Antonia Novello became the first female and the first person of Hispanic origin to become the U.S. surgeon general. Initially a pediatric nephrologist, she later switched to Public Health Service, after realizing she was too emotional to be a pediatrician. The Puerto Rican physician was also a UNICEF representative.
Considered to be the first transgender to specialize in sex reassignment surgery, American gynecologist Marci Lee Bowers is also a specialist in functional clitoral restoration. Beginning her career in obstetrics and gynecology, she later apprenticed under Stanley Biber, the father of sex reassignment surgery, and Pierre Foldès, a pioneer in clitoral restoration, before setting up her independent practice in California.
Famed for her dedicated service to underserved community in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, American physician Regina Mercia Benjamin held several important positions including that of the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. Throughout her career, she worked for the disadvantaged people, focusing on preventive health measures, mortgaging her home to rebuild Bayou La Batre Health Clinic after Hurricane Katrina.
English-Australian plastic surgeon Fiona Wood pioneered the spray-on skin method of treating burn victims. Before stepping into a medical career, she had aspired to be sprinter. She later became the first woman from Western Australia to become a plastic surgeon. She was named the 2005 Australian of the Year.
Grethe Rask was a Danish surgeon and physician. She worked in Zaïre, where she had set up her own hospital. In 1977, Rask returned to Denmark after developing symptoms of an unknown disease. Grethe Rask died in the same year and the disease was later identified as AIDS, making her one of the first non-Africans to have died of AIDS.
Olympic figure-skating champion Tenley Albright was also a Harvard Medical School alumna and a qualified surgeon. A bout of mild polio in childhood couldn’t deter her spirit, and she ended up becoming the first female figure skater from the U.S. to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
Christine Kaseba is a Zambian surgeon, physician, and politician. She is perhaps best known for her service as the First Lady of Zambia from 23 September 2011 until her husband President Michael Sata's demise on October 28, 2014. Christine Kaseba is currently serving as Zambian Ambassador to France. As a physician, she specializes in gynecology and obstetrics.
Emeline Horton Cleveland created history by becoming the first female surgeon to successfully conduct gynecological surgery in the U.S. Initially aspiring to be a missionary, she changed her plans and began teaching, before furthering her medical career. She also introduced one of the first training courses for nurses in her country.