Elisabeth Pauline Pickett (1918-): opening the door for women in urological oncology

J Urol. 2007 Nov;178(5):1875-7. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2007.07.004. Epub 2007 Sep 17.


Purpose: We outline the career of Elisabeth Pauline Pickett (1918-), the first board certified female urologist.

Materials and methods: The historical literature including personal writings of Pickett and her mentors were reviewed. The factors which determine female medical student career choice as well as a summary of the current status of women in urology were also examined.

Results: The groundwork for women in the modern era of urology was forged by Mary E. Childs MacGregor, who also supported and encouraged fellowship training. Inspired by Doctor MacGregor's example, Elisabeth Pickett became the first female general surgeon to complete a fellowship in urological oncology in 1955 under Dr. Willet Whitmore at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and to be board certified in urology in 1962. Despite the benchmark set by these early pioneers the American Board of Urology currently lists only 324 female board certified urologists, 86 female candidates and 20 board eligible individuals as of the year 2006.

Conclusions: Although the number of female graduating medical students in modern times is equivalent to males, there still exists a large discrepancy in the number of women choosing urology and other surgical subspecialties as a career. Elisabeth Pickett demonstrated that it could be done at a time when few thought it possible. However, only a minority of women today continue to pursue fellowship training.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Education, Medical / history*
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / education
  • Medical Oncology / history*
  • Physicians, Women / history*
  • United States
  • Urology / education
  • Urology / history*

Personal name as subject

  • Elisabeth Pauline Pickett