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Dorothea Erxleben - Medical Doctor : 1715 - 1762

Dorothea Christiane Erxleben née Leporin was the first female medical doctor in Germany. Erxleben was instructed in medicine by her father from an early age. Eventually she had her own practice, which she took over from her father on his death in 1747.

However, in order to be a certified doctor, she had to study medicine, and, at that time, universities did not admit women. In 1742 she published a tract arguing that women should be allowed to attend university. Eventually she received a dispensation to attend University from Frederick the Great of Prussia. She didn't make use of her royal approval right away, because she got married. In order to counter her colleagues accusations ( they brought charges against her for practicing without a license and for witchcraft.) she decided to take her exams after the birth of her fourth child. In 1754, Erxleben successfully passed her exams at the University of Halle. She was 39 years old.

She went on to analyse the obstacles preventing women from studying, among them housekeeping and family



Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

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