Image caption: From left to right: Isabel Thorne, Sophia Jex-Blake, and Edith Pechey

Seven women who were not allowed to receive their medical degrees 150 years ago have been awarded posthumous degrees by the University of Edinburgh, the BBC reports.

RELATED: Women’s scores surpass men’s after Japanese medical school stops rigging exams

They were charged a higher tuition fee than the men and forced to arrange for their own lectures due to a clause stating that staff was not required to teach women.

The “Edinburgh Seven”, comprised of Sophia Jex-Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson Marshall, and Emily Bovell, were the first women admitted to study medicine at the school in 1869, but faced a torrent of discrimination and abuse that prevented them from graduating as doctors.

In one incident, the male students threw mud at the women when they showed up for an anatomy exam.


The Edinburgh Seven helped pave the way for future women to study medicine and obtain their medical degrees in Britain.

They were granted their honourary degrees earlier this month, on the 150th anniversary of their matriculation at the University of Edinburgh.

RELATED: Data suggests the U.S. physician workforce is becoming more diverse

The degrees were collected by a group of students currently enrolled in Edinburgh’s medical school.

“We are delighted to confer the degrees rightfully owed to this incredible group of women,” Professor Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor of the university, said via the BBC.

“The segregation and discrimination that the Edinburgh Seven faced might belong to history, but barriers still exist that deter too many talented young people from succeeding at university.

“We must learn from these women and strive to widen access for all who have the potential to succeed.”

Women were able to graduate from the University of Edinburgh medical school in 1894 and the first doctors e entered the workforce in 1896, thanks to the efforts of these trailblazing women.