July 12, 2022

Nora is one of only a few women in a field dominated by men. Do you see any parallels between her situation in the nineteenth century and today?

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Jessica S

Surgery especially is still a very hard field for women. Especially a woman who, like Nora, would also like a meaningful family life.


Women are still struggling to gain the respect of their male counterparts in medicine and other fields. Making a choice between career and family is still a very real thing for women today. Less so for men still.


I am glad that there is some progress in women entering the field, but I still feel that it is heavily dominated by men.


Absolutely. When I was a medical student one of my older male attendings told a male colleague that female residents were “worthless” since we all get pregnant and leave medicine eventually. And this was in 2014. I think Nora’s question of “why can’t I have both” still remains, especially in medicine.

Jennifer May

I am not too far into the book. However I have a great admiration and appreciation for Nora’s perseverance. She came from humble and troubled beginnings and struggled as a young girl to fit in and find her place in the world without the benefit of her family. Like many real life examples, she is proof that staying true to yourself and never giving up reaps huge rewards. It’s also proof that “not everybody else Is out to get her”. All too often people who are dealt the short end of the stick think that everyone is out to get… Read more »


They are still areas where men dominate certain fields. They are more men who are engineers, doctors etc.


As a woman who works in a male dominanted field. I could relate to Nora and the sentiment that she is not a typical woman. Hard work and not shying away from the difficult or dirty work to build confidence with those you work with but not the industry as a whole rings true.


Many parallels— racial, religion, gender, gender identity, disabled, foreign accent-a-parallel can be drawn with any number of minorities in the past 20 years. Things have improved immensely in the past 50 and even 20 and 10 years, but there are people still being pigeon-holed and faced with stumbling blocks in an attempt to follow their chosen dreams, and people who can and do create and incite baseless hatred and do their best to hamper others from succeeding. Fortunately, there is also an increase in remedies for those human rights violations, but the violations certainly still exist.


Of course. Women still have problems in many men dominated fields. Progress is slow.


Sadly women, especially men and women who are POC still get the short end of the stick in the medical field.

JM Ambrose

It really highlights how incredibly brave the women that did push back had to be during those times. Those skilled in healing could be considered witches and killed or could be thrown in jail without any form of real justice. Not to mention that society would banish, family might disown them and even to the point where people such as food vendors would shun them. In a flash they could be living on the streets with no support.


A follow-up on my great great aunt. She had to take anatomy class privately because it would embarrass the other students. The book does a good job of explaining the puritanical views of the period I think.


Nora was an unusual character in her time and did have an eccentric upbringing. I appreciate that education is open to all today. I appreciate that women can be whatever they want to be. However, we are all still subject to the effects of systems of oppression and tradition. Nora was nurtured for STEM pursuits by Dr. Croft, unintentionally at first. This only goes to show how important exposure and nurturing curiosity are! It also illustrates how important it is to rethink systems to discover wisdom.


Women still have to fight for their rights even today!


It is often said, the more things change the more they stay the same. I really admire Nora for the strength of character and for her passion for learning. I think in a way the parallels lies in the freedom of personal choice. Regardless of circumstances often times we sacrifice opportunities because of familial, and societal factors. Nora made decisions that even in modern times are difficult. To leave her community, family, and the security a marriage would have offered her,
for the sake of pursuing her radical truth is very inspiring.


Outside of the obvious imbalance in the medical field (although women have made great gains since the time period this book was written in) there’s another theme that’s common in a woman’s life and it’s love vs self. I appreciated when Nora didn’t just say yes to marrying Daniel and asked if she can have both a fulfilling career and a loving marriage/family. I found it important statement, that she put herself first. I still think women struggle with this today choosing themselves over love/their family, wanting to have it all but having to sacrifice one for the other for… Read more »


Medical school is still an “old boys club”. Not easy for qualified women or POC to get admitted.


Absolutely there are parallels. Most surgeons I’ve encountered are males. It is not to say that I have had many surgeries but this has been my experience. Also even in politics, in USA we have never had a female President. We have a female Vice President now but we hear so little about what she is even doing.


So many complains about our VP. I wonder if it because she is female.

Laura A.

*Nora is one of only a few women in a field dominated by white men.There, I fixed it. But seriously, besides women still not getting equal pay as men, POC are even less so.

Julie Bawaneh

Even though women have had advancements in being treated more professionally in this century, there still the fight and courage needed by women to advance in their careers in the medical profession and business sectors. Women continue to fight to be taken seriously and equally by their male co-workers and supervisors. Even if she works twice as hard and gets better results, many women are ignored, insulted and belittled by men in equal or higher authority. Nora will achieve her dreams, but the hardships of having to prove that she is equal or better than her male peers will continue.… Read more »


Absolutely! You name the field and look who is in the positions of power—how many women, how many men. Also the idea of choice and how much choice is “enough.” I felt like Nora’s discussions with Daniel and Horace helped illustrate both the frustration of those whose choices are limited and the confusion of those whose choices are far less limited in understanding that frustration. The overturning of Roe v Wade comes to mind.

K Schell

Medicine is very segmented gender wise still today. Doctors tend to still be the higher hierarchy and are still predominantly male. Depending on what country or state you live in abortion is not available to all who need them. New approaches to treating patients are still pioneered by the young as the more established physician is “set “ in his way. Lots of parallels in the story at many more instances.


Yes! Females have to be very determined to enter and succeed in traditionally male jobs. I admire their courage.

R Colling

If course there are parallels. Not much has changed. More jobs (careers) are achieved by women but once in that career, they are still looked upon as lesser, and with disdain because of their gender. Awful.


So true, I agree


Female surgeons are still not common.


I do not see any parallels. Nora was oppressed and had to hide. It’s not the same in the 21st century.


Much progress has been made in the area of equal professional rights for women in society compared to Morale time. However, there is still professional inequality between men and some women in the workforce. We still have a way to go!


In some countries, women are denied lots of opportunities today. A few are the right to chose to marry (or not), select your partner yourself, drive, own property, leave the house unescorted, etc.


As I listened to the story, I kept thinking it should come with trigger warnings, it is so relevant to current issues. Nora is clearly equal to her male counterparts in her abilities, yet is denied volition as the ( old, white) men in power control her fate. The book even illustrates the horrors that ensue when a woman is unable to get a legal abortion. Listening to the book, I feared I was getting a preview of my future in America, as a woman.


It is inherently obvious that,
historically, men have viewed women as unequal. There is so much to gain by working and problem solving together. I’m grateful to all women who have and continue to blaze the trail for equality in every aspect.

A. Ireton

Yes, I see parallels. There are still many male-dominated fields that are difficult or illegal for women to enter despite being just as qualified, if not more qualified. Women still have to make difficult choices between jobs/careers and family based on many factors. Like some of you have commented, the recognition, acceptance, and pay of women in male-dominated fields is usually less than what men enjoy. Some progress has been made as there are now more career choices, educational opportunities, less legal and societal restrictions, and more societal support.


Yes, in technology. Funny thing in the beginning there were a lot of women, until men viewed it as interesting ….


Technology is a frontier industry. It is new and developing, I believe. I would like to know how equality plays a part.


Technology is a frontier industry. It’s new and still developing. I would like to know how equality is in it.

Rhena Wahlen

There are still many fields of medicine that have few women. Women are still discouraged for going out of the women’s path.


As a female in the military and in the medical corps, I experienced some of the predjudice that Nora experienced. There is still a lot of stereotypes about women the are reinforced in most workplaces that label the behavior of women as negatives, where the same behavior in men is an admirable quality. And, the wage gap is real.


There was a study published in JAMA, which stated that female doctors had lower mortality rate in patients they treated and lower readmission rates than their male counterparts who worked at the same hospital. One of the deductions made was that even in a dreamed equal environment, women had to work harder and study harder in order to prove to patients and colleagues that they are worthy of their respect and trust. Even today women in many many fields have to constantly prove they are just as good or better than the opposite sex.


I wonder if the JAMA article explored the doctor -patient relationship…. Are there better outcomes because a woman often is more compassionate, a better listener, more patient than her make counterparts?

As I observe my son & nephew, along with their wives, as new parents with babies, I am definitely seeing gender differences and bitterness in each gender. It is fascinating!


Yes. I think women in the sciences today are still not at the level of men. Or I should maybe say, they do not get the recognition. There are & were brilliant women in the sciences in the past, and only now are they coming into notice.


Thank goodness there are finally children’s biographies being written about previously unsung female heroes of the past! Hopefully future generations will grow up knowing the contributions women have made throughout history.


Women in any “traditional” male job role: oncology physicians and radiologist, government leadership roles—local to national, commercial and military pilots, military generals, military contractors.


Women in ministry!


Woman in any work force today have to deal with men that does not respect them.
Woman in medicine are still fighting to prove they are just as good or even better than men.


Women in Space

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