Anandi Gopal Joshi

Women in STEM
Women in STEM
Anandi Gopal Joshi

Birth: March 31, 1865

Death: February 26, 1887

Specialty: Medicine

Major Contributions:

One of the first South Asian female doctors

First Female Indian doctor to study in the west

Image: Wikimedia

Born into a wealthy family, Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi made history in many ways. Named Yamuna when she was born in Kalyan, India in 1865 she was a member of an orthodox Marathi Brahmin family. As was customary at the time, she was married to a man almost twenty years older than her, Gopalrao Joshi, who renamed her Anandi.

It was very important to her husband that she learn to read and write, and he helped her learn English as he saw it as more useful than the traditional Sanskrit. At the age of fourteen Anandibai gave birth to a baby boy, but due to a lack of needed medical intervention the child died ten days later. This was a turning point for the couple as they began to develop a plan for Anandibai to be educated as a doctor in hopes that she could serve the women and children of India.

Impressed by Gopalrao’s support of his wife’s efforts, an American woman, Theodicia Carpenter offered Anandibai a place to stay in her New Jersey home. Upon arriving in America, Anandibai was encouraged to apply to the first women’s medical program in the world, the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She enrolled at the age of 19 and in 1886 she was awarded her medical degree with her thesis focusing on obstetric practices among the ancient Hindus.

She returned to India to much celebration and was appointed the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital. Sadly, while she was in America, she had contracted tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease in February of 1887. 

The Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences, a non-governmental organization from Lucknow India, has been awarding the Anandibai Joshi Award for Medicine in honor of her contributions to advancing medical care in India and the Government of Maharashtra has established a fellowship in her name for young women working on women’s health.While she didn’t have a chance to practice the medicine she had worked so hard to learn, she did help pave the way for women in India to pursue their dreams of becoming medical doctors.

Written by Angela Goad


Do You Know What Made Anandi Joshi Become India’s First Lady Doctor At A Time When No Girl Was Educated In India?

Wikipedia: Anandi Gopal Joshi

See Also:

Drexel University College of Medicine History

Writing Women Back Into Science History (Science Friday)

Historical photos circulating depict women medical pioneers