Portrait of Helen Sexton (1862-1950)

Circa 1890s
In the 1880s the doors of the University of Melbourne’s medical school were closed to women, but Helen Sexton and Lilian Alexander overcame this obstacle, pressuring the university to admit women in 1887.The first seven female medical students were
Clara Stone, Margaret Whyte,Grace Vale, Elizabeth O’Hara, Helen Sexton, Lilian Alexander and Annie O’Hara.

Helen Sexton was the first woman to be elected a member of the honorary staff as a surgeon at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Soon after the outbreak of World War I, Sexton,aged over fifty, took a small field hospital to France. This was a gift from Sexton and otherwomen doctors, whose offers to serve had been refused by Australia’s military authorities.

Lilian Alexander, the first female student at Trinity College and a leading surgeon, also served overseas in World War.
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Object detail

18 x 12.8 cm
Accession Number
Medical History Museum Category


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