Flexner’s Exodus: The Effect of Progressive Era Policy on Women’s Participation in Medical Fields

Margaret L. Charleroy, University of Minnesota
Katie Genadek, University of Minnesota

In 1910, Abraham Flexner and the Carnegie Foundation published a scathing report on the state of medical education in North America. Its influence was immediate and widespread. Many medical schools with low rankings merged with other colleges, while others, mainly woman’s medical colleges, closed their doors entirely. Although the report is often praised for catalyzing standardization of medical education in the United States, it has been hypothesized that it also decreased the number of practitioners in the US. We will examine the consequences of the Flexner Report for women’s participation in medicine and related fields using US census data via IPUMS-USA. Preliminary examination of labor force trends suggests that the Flexner Report may have stalled women’s participation in professional medicine. We will further analyze the effect of the Flexner Report using difference-in-difference methods to estimate effects of the Flexner Report on women in medicine.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity