College launches first online exhibition, Women at the heart of general practice

The Royal College of GPs has launched its first online exhibition, Women at the heart of general practice, to mark women’s contribution to general practice and explore the many changes in the profession since the first British women pioneers began to take formal medical qualifications.

The exhibition delves into the experiences of women GPs, GP’s wives, and the wider practice team, including nurses, health visitors, midwives, and pharmacists, practice managers, and receptionists. It showcases stories from the College’s own collections - including making clips from its own oral history collections publicly available for the first time - and those of female healthcare professionals in the present day.

The eight themes of the exhibition explore the remarkable contribution of women to general practice. In 1963, just 9% of the GP workforce in England were women – today, this figure is more than 50%. The exhibition looks at how this has helped to improve care for women, and some of the challenges that female GPs met when entering practice. It also highlights some of the prejudice and discrimination encountered by many women who entered medicine - as well as the challenges facing women in medicine today, such as the gender pay gap, and a continued lack of representation at senior levels of the medical specialties.

Women at the heart of general practice will be available on the Royal College of GPs’ website from Thursday 15 July, alongside a series of online events, and social media projects. An in-person display showcasing related content will follow in the coming months, COVID-19 dependent.

RCGP President, Professor Amanda Howe, said: “Women have had a long and contested route into fulfilling their potential as doctors. I am proud that the RCGP has created this exhibition which shows us some of the history and context of this journey and allows us to celebrate the contribution of women GPs to the profession and patient care. I am sure it will raise as many interesting questions as it answers and look forward to discussing these.

“The pandemic has taught us that human effort and persistence can overcome adversity and lead to change. Women in general practice have shown that to be true – and patient care, the profession and the College itself are all the better for us!”

The exhibition’s curator, Briony Hudson, commented: "Researching the accounts of women working in historical and contemporary general practice reveals a fascinating range of stories, artworks and objects which I'm excited to share via this online exhibition. This project is not just about women doctors, it is a chance to consider women patients, practice managers, primary care pharmacists, and wives amongst many others. It has made me appreciate how much general practice was and is a team effort.”

Further information

(For Media only)

RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
Out of hours: 020 3188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.