Science Friday – Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctor’s? – Not My Nephew


My brother told me this story.  He asked his son “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  His son said, “A lawyer.”  My brother asked, “You don’t want to be a doctor like Mommy,”  His son’s response shows how far women have come in the medical profession.  “No, daddy!  Only girls can be doctors.”

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?  The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman is one of my favorite books of the year.  First, it provided a chance to share the story above.

Secondly, it’s a well researched book.  Among the sources the author used is the primary source Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession by Elizabeth Blackwell.  Click on the title above and it will take you to a full-text version of the book.

Marjorie Priceman is the illustrator of two Caldecott Honor books.  I hope Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? is in serious consideration for the Caldecott Award this year.  The melding of the text, illustrations and white space is perfect.  The character’s faces are great… happy, sad, surprised, smug, filled with chicken pox.  There’s never a question of how a character feels.

My favorite part of the book includes the text, “Finally, Elizabeth asked doctors and friends.  Some thought it was a good idea, but didn’t think there was any way it could be done.  Others said it wasn’t right.” Below the paragraph is enough white space to focus the eye on the fancy text and drawings below.  As Elizabeth lifts up a huge basket overflowing with laundry, a man says. “Women are too weak for such hard work.”  While she is reading a book, another man states, “Women aren’t smart enough.”

I better write a revised version for my nephew.  Or else he’ll be a lawyer.  In his mind, only boys can be lawyers.  Guess who is a lawyer?