Women’s History Month: Agnodice

Historians aren’t actually sure if Agnodice was a real person or just a myth, but she is credited as the first doctor and midwife to assist laboring women in childbirth. She supposedly lived in the 4th century B.C. in Athens.Agnodice

Legend has it that she wanted to become a doctor but was unable to study medicine because she was a woman. Instead, she cut her hair and dressed as a man during her studies and as she practiced medicine in ancient Athens.

She was credited with actually listening to women, rather than dismissing their concerns and calling their medical issues “hysteria.” She only revealed her gender to her female patients and in doing so, gained their trust and respect. 

She soon became so popular that male doctors accused her of seducing her patients and she was put on trial. During the trial, it was revealed that she was a woman. She was found not guilty of lewdness, but was soon charged with illegally practicing medicine. During her trial, she pointed out that she’d received the same schooling as her male counterparts and many women in Athens testified that they’d received superior medical care under her watch. She was acquitted of the charges and the law in Athens soon changed so that women could practice medicine without consequence.