The Pioneers of Women in Urology

The Pioneers of Women in Urology

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About the author

Jana Barrett is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyle content.

About the Author

Jana Barrett is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyle content.

Note: references to "female", "male", "women", and "men" in this article refer to sex assigned at birth, not gender.

Women’s healthcare has drastically improved over the years. Although there’s a lot of work to be done, we’re reflecting on how females are slowly but surely changing the field of urology. Some people prefer a female doctor, others a male doctor, and some are indifferent. The important thing is that people have options when it comes to health decisions.

When you look at transitions in women’s health, the field of obstetrics and gynecology has come a long way, in terms of gender disparities. In 1970, 7% of gynecologists were female. Compare that to today, about 86.4% of Ob/Gyn residents are female (1).

But about females in urology? The common misconception is that a gynecologist is to a vagina as a urologist is to a penis, and that urology mostly covers issues related to the penis: prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, vasectomies, reproductive concerns, or urinary tract complications.

But “It’s not all male genitalia!” as Dr. Leslie Rickey, a practicing urologist and associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, told NPR. "It's the kidneys and the urinary tract. And as you may or may not be aware, there are a lot of women leaking urine out there." (2).

People with vaginas need to see urologists too, and it really helps if that urologist is a woman. Female urologists are nothing new, so it’s important to give credit to the ones who have paved the way. So, who were these badasses who gave the middle finger to patriarchal standards in the name of women’s health? Allow us to explain...

Who were the first female urologists?

Picture this: It’s the late 1800’s. The industrial revolution has propelled females into the working force. Females want to pursue careers in medicine and healing, however, powerful men in top hats and tailcoats say things like “for their own sake, it was not desirable that they should pursue some of the studies necessary such as anatomy." (3)

That was just the beginning for females in medical school. Students were seperated based on gender. Feamles were not allowed to dissect male genitalia and were instead given a castrated papier-mache model which “could not lead them sexually astray.” They were only looking out for us! Right...?

But there were pioneers who led the way to Females entering and excelling in urology. Here are some of the stars.

Ann E. Brumall

  • In 1879 Dr. Brumall devised a type of lithotrite (early medical tool that crushed bladder stones). Her invention was attached to a dental drill that bore into the bladder stone and then was removed through the vagina.
  • Although she would have made an excellent urologist, society dictated that she attend to women’s issues so she became a gynecologist in Philadelphia.

Mary E . Childs MacGregor

  • Trained in urology at the New York Infirmary in 1928.
  • Chief of urology at the New York Infirmary among other important positions.
  • She also founded fellowships for women in the field of urology.

Rosemary Shoemaker

  • Went to University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1933, where a new science building was donated to the medical school on the condition that there were at least 4 female students in the freshman medical class. Equality!
  • Received an M.S. in urology in 1938.
  • Completed a four-year urology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in 1938.
  • Unfortunately, during her four years at the Mayo Clinic she spent a good amount of time in pathology because pregnant women were not allowed on the urology service (she gave birth to two daughters during her fellowship).

Victoire Lespinasse

  • Trained by Charles Huggins in 1942 at the University of Chicago
  • Victoria was a member of the Pan American Medical Women's Alliance. Her research included how laminaria (type of seaweed) could be used to dilate stone-obstructed ureters.
  • Her last name means “less penis” and we’re here for it.

Elisabeth Pauline Pickett

  • First female board certified urologist in 1962
  • Due to a shortage of physicians during WWII, she had to attend medical school straight through the summers and graduate in three years.
  • During her residency at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn from 1944-46, she worked 72-hour shifts.
  • Some places where she trained had to build makeshift women’s bathrooms for new female doctors, as there weren’t any before!
  • Dr. Pickett held academic positions at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, New York Hospital, Instructor in Urological Surgery at Cornell University Medical School, New York Infirmary, and as a Research Fellow at Sloan Kettering Institute.
  • Trained Afghan physicians and treated patients during a several-month stint in Afghanistan in the 1970s.

The timeline of transformation

1980: Society of Women in Urology informally begins at the American Urology Association meeting when “five female urologists met for breakfast to discuss their experiences and frustrations.” (4)

1985: The Urology department at the University of California, Irvine reported that there are just 22 females in the field in the US (3).

1992: The Society of Women in Urology establishes an executive board and bylaws.

2008: The Society of Women in Urology has more than 300 members, and an estimated 20% of urologists in training are now female.

2015: Urology still has a large gender disparity – just 7.7% of all practicing urologists are female (5).

2018: The State of the Urology Workforce and Practice in the United States reports that approximately 78% and 63% of practicing urologists reported their practices made efforts to hire females and underrepresented minorities, respectively (6).

2019: 25% of urology trainees are females (4).

The American Urological Association published that while the urologic workforce in the United States is predominantly male, the percentage of female urologists is on the rise (4). Furthermore, the 2019 Urology Residency Match results show a record-high of 83% of females applying have matched to urology residency positions (7). Let’s hope they’ll be practicing on actual humans instead of castrated paper-mache dummies!

2020: The American Urological Association published its 2019 census and reported out of the total 13,044 practicing urologists in the United States, the number of female urologists grew to 1,286 which is 9.9% of the total workforce. This is an increase from 2015 with just 7.7% of urologists being female. A higher proportion of female urologists were seen in younger age groups as a result of the increase in urology trainees. With this trend, we can only expect the percentage of female urologists to rise and start to balance the scales!

2021: The American Urological Association 2020 census reported 10.9% of practicing urologists in the United States are female

2022: The American Urological Association 2021 census reported 11.6% of practicing urologists in the United States are female.


  1. Acgme residents and fellows by sex and specialty, 2021. AAMC. (n.d.).

  2. Rutsch, P. Why the urologist is usually a man, but maybe not for long. NPR.

  3. WOMEN IN UROLOGY: A SPLASH IN THE PAN. Gold Journal. (n.d.). 

  4. About Society of Women in Urology,

  5. Cox, A., & Siemens, D. R. (n.d.). Continued gender disparity in urology? only time will tell. Canadian Urological Association Journal.

  6. AUA Annual Census. (n.d.).

  7. 2019 urology residency match day results released. American Urological Association MediaRoom. (n.d.).