March winds bring forth a month of remembering and celebrating women and their achievements and contributions to history and society. Women have been pivotal in every aspect of society, including radiology. Without the contributions of well-known scientists and radiologists, such as Marie Curie, modern medicine would not be at the level it is currently.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to highlight prominent women in radiology from the past and the present. By acknowledging the achievements of women, we can empower future imaging dreamers and provide a better world for tomorrow.
Marie Curie, the Mother of Modern Physics
As one of the most famous and revered names in science, Marie Curie made countless contributions and receive many accolades. While she may be more well-known for her research in radiation, Mari Curie also played a hand in diagnostic radiology, especially during World War I.
Since most hospitals did not have the proper equipment during that time, Marie Curie took it upon herself to set up radiologic services for military hospitals and train women how to use them. She became the Director of the Red Cross Radiology Service, and she used her position to procure cars to transform into “Little Curies”, which were mobile radiography units. Her efforts during the war treated and helped over a million soldiers.
Florence Stoney, the First Female Radiologist in the UK
In a time when radiology was still developing, Florence Stoney became the first female radiologists in the UK. She faced discrimination and alienation as she worked in poor conditions alone. During World War I, she, along with her sister, tried to volunteer with the British Red Cross, but were denied due to their gender.
However, Florence Stoney ignored the refusal and organized a unit of women volunteers and led them as the head of medical staff and radiologist. Her work led to her unit earning the 1914 Star for bravery, and after the war, she became the first female full-time physician under the British War Office as the Head of X-ray and Electrical Department for 3 years. She contributed many articles and scientific papers to medical literature before her death.
Elizabeth Fleischmann, A Pioneer for X-ray Safety
After learning about Roentgen’s discovery, Elizabeth Fleischmann became proficient with radiophotography and established the first X-ray laboratory in California one year after the discovery. She was California’s earliest radiologist, but as a woman, she faced a lot of discrimination especially since she was thrust into publicity with her radiophotography.
Nevertheless, she continued examining patients and taking radiographs, some of which made its way into newspapers and textbooks. Her accomplishments allowed her to become one of the only non-physician inaugural members of the Roentgen Society of the United States. She became known as the most expert woman radiographer in the world according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Unfortunately, her dedication to the field led her to “[become] careless of her own health”, and Elizabeth Fleischmann became the second person and first woman to die because of X-rays.
Before her death, however, Elizabeth Fleischmann became the first radiographer to engage in safety protocols during X-ray procedures. She used a double plate glass screen and experimented with different materials to see which one resisted the rays more and leading the way for safety measures for the future.
Alice Ettinger, A Pioneer of Radiology Education
From the time Alice Ettinger stepped foot into Boston with a new radiograph device, she has led numerous students in the field of radiology and accomplished many things in academia during a time where few women existed in those spaces.
She became the first radiologist-in-chief at the Boston Dispensary and the New England Medical Center Hospital and the first chair of the Department of Radiology at Tufts School of Medicine after she created the first radiology residency program there. Her dedication to teaching radiology and compassion to her students resulted in 13 faculty teaching awards.
Marilyn Sackett, The First Living Legend
Marilyn Sackett, the founder of Advanced Health Education Center and MEDRelief Staffing, has always been passionate about mentoring, education, and radiology. She has a long and extensive career in the field of radiology, and she was a Director of Imaging for a large healthcare system in the Texas Medical Center. She led the charge to improve radiation protection and licensure in the state of Texas, and to this day, Marilyn Sackett holds license #1 for radiology in the state. She is a former Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award winner, a Fellow of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, and she was the first designated Living Legend for the North Texas Radiologic Technologist Society.
Women in Radiology of the Future
Women have always had a hand in history, and without these women, the field of radiology would not be where it is now. Celebrate their achievements and triumphs and appreciate all the obstacles they had to overcome in order to elevate modern society to where it is now. As the path has been paved by amazing women, so too will it continue to guide more outstanding women in the future.
Is there another woman in radiology you want to highlight? Drop a comment about a woman in radiology who has inspired whether they are from history or the present!