History of AMWA

The American Medical Women's Association was established by Dr. Bertha VanHoosen in 1915, when female physicians were overwhelmingly underrepresented in medicine.   Today, AMWA represents a large and powerful group of outstanding physicians.

From the AMWA website, http://www.amwa-doc.org

For nearly a century, the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) has been committed to the advancement of women in medicine. Although the number of women choosing careers in medicine has grown substantially, there has not been a commensurate increase in the percentage of women in senior leadership positions. To redress this situation, AMWA has carried out ambitious advocacy efforts including research, constituency building, mentoring, leadership development, and policy reform to enable environmental and institutional transformation for 96 years.

In 1915, at a time when women physicians were an under-represented minority and in need of cooperative action by women in medicine, AMWA became the first national organization of women physicians. AMWA organized committees to document for the first time unequal opportunities for women in postgraduate training, hospital internships, academic appointments, scholarships and papers presented at professional meetings. AMWA demonstrated by acting collectively through a national organization, women could increase their effectiveness as lobbyists....

Although female enrollment in medical schools substantially increased, there had been an inadequate increase in the percentage of women in senior leadership positions. AMWA member Marlys Witte and the staff of the AMWA Professional Resources and Research Center at the University of Arizona pioneered a research project on medical women in academia. As she and her colleagues discovered, women were still on the ground floor of the medical faculty hierarchy ten years after their number had begun to rise in the profession. AMWA organized workshops outlining the goals and delineating the constraints that limit the expansion of the role of women in medicine as well as plans and strategies to overcome the restraints...AMWA organized the Women in Medical Academia Leadership program... The program also inspired attendee, Florence Hazeltine, to start the Women's Health Research Foundation. The program was a seminal event for women's leadership advancement because several women physicians who attended the program advanced to leadership roles including Deans, University Presidents and Department Chairs....

Today, AMWA members are forging into senior positions in academic medicine and these pioneers are making it easier for other women to follow behind. AMWA's 96 years of ambitious research, data gathering, constituency building, policy reform, advocacy and education are gradually enabling environmental and institutional change. For nearly a century, AMWA has organized collective efforts into one unified voice for the advancement of women in medicine.