VMWS History

VMWS was founded in 1895 to represent the needs of women and children within the community in response to the perceived disparity of opportunity and treatment.

Where does the VMWS come from?

Our first meeting was held in the home of Constance Stone, one of the founders of the VWMS, with her sister Clara taking up the presidency. In 1890, she became the first woman to be registered with the Medical Board of Victoria. Her sister followed her into medicine, and they went into private practice together, working at an out-patients dispensary on La Trobe street.

In September 1896, 11 of Melbourne’s female physicians including Clara and Constance founded the Queen Victoria Hospital, the first hospital in Victoria operated for women by women. Their passion and dedication has changed the world, or at least our part of it, for the betterment of both female patients and female physicians.


Medical women supporting Medical women: our ongoing commitment to the profession

  • Much has changed since the days of Constance Stone, and there is no denying that there have been many advances towards equality in Medicine:
    • The proportion of female medical students is much higher than it was
    • Maternity leave and availabilities of flexible job options is a real positive
    • The general attitude towards women in medicine now acknowledges that they are just as efficient, talented and intelligent as men

However, all is not perfect:

  • Women hold only 12.5% of leadership roles in large tertiary hospitals (1)
  • In 2016, the gender pay gap was 33.6% for full-time medical specialists and 24.7% among GPs (2)
  • When controlled for hours, female specialists and GPs still earned on average 16.6% and 25% less than their male counterparts respectively (2)

Perhaps organisations that value feminism such as the VMWS are perceived negatively as ‘anti-male’. The VMWS would like to stress that feminism and misandry are not the same concepts and we advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations, many of which include men. We acknowledge the great strides have been made towards equality and continue to take on the new challenges that come up around this issue.


Constance Stone Oration

The Constance Stone Oration is awarded by the Victorian Medical Women’s Society yearly. The oration celebrates the past and present achievements of the VMWS and medical women and is named to honour the first female registered to practice Medicine in Australia. Speakers are invited to deliver the oration because of their significant achievements which are in keeping with the aims of the VMWS. The Constance Stone Award, given yearly to the person who delivers the Constance Stone Oration is supported by a bequest to the VMWS by Dr Merrilyn Murnane, AM.

Click here to read more and to access the Constance Stone Oration Honour Roll.

Click here to read about the 2018 Constance Stone Oration delivered by Dr Lorraine Baker

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Interested in being involved?

We welcome new members and participation in MWS NSW activities.