New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
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Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Penn Vet’s Women Pioneers

Josephine Duebler, VMD, 1938

In 1933, the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania voted to admit women to the course in veterinary medicine, provided "that no concessions be made in regard to the work required."

At the 1938 Commencement, the University awarded the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to Mary Josephine Deubler, the first woman to earn the VMD degree at Penn.

Following her graduation, Penn graduated two women from its veterinary school in 1939, one in 1940, and a total of 103 from 1940-1972. Dr. Deubler’s presence changed the gender dynamic in veterinary medicine by just “showing it could be done.”

Pioneering the Profession: The Rise of Women in Veterinary Medicine

Throughout Penn Vet’s history, extraordinary people, who have accomplished exemplary feats, have defined the legacy of the School. In this series of five short features, Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks V’79 GR’80, sits down with Drs. Elaine Hammel, V’60, and Jill Beech, V’72, to reflect on the untold stories of their challenges and breakthroughs as some of the first women to pursue careers in veterinary medicine, not only within Penn Vet, but within the profession.

Chapter Five – A Lasting Legacy

In the final chapter of the series, Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks and Drs. Elaine Hammel and Jill Beech reflect on their lasting legacies, both in the broader veterinary field and within the School.

Chapter Four – Visionary Impact: Possibilities for the Future

As technology advances and population demographics change, Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks and Drs. Elaine Hammel and Jill Beech examine opportunities in providing exemplary veterinary care in the future.

Chapter Three – Revolutionizing the Field

Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks and Drs. Elaine Hammel and Jill Beech discuss the biggest shifts in veterinary medicine that they've seen unfold since the beginning of their careers.

Chapter Two – Pioneering Clinical Discovery

From discovering the organisms that cause Equine Protozoa Myeloencephalitis (EPM) to developing immunotherapy treatments for sarcoids in the field, Dean Joan Hendricks and Drs. Elaine Hammel and Jill Beech examine some of their notable clinical contributions during their time at Penn Vet.

Chapter One – Penn: A Culture of Inclusion

In the early 1960s, while other veterinary schools turned women away, the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) welcomed students based on their merit.

Dean Joan Hendricks talks with two of her mentors, Dr. Jill Beech and Dr. Elaine Hammel, as they share stories of their unique journeys as some of the first women to practice in their field.

Penn Vet History Resources

From images to archives, from Bellwethers to books to a seminal talk by Dr. Benjamin Rush on the veterinary profession, you can find it on the Penn Vet History Resources webpages.