Nielsine Nielsen (1850-1916), qualified as a physician in 1885
Art by Emily Wells (tumblr)
In January 1874, a governess and private tutor named Nielsine Nielsen petitioned the Danish government for a place at the University of Copenhagen. At that time, no Danish university admitted female students but public opinion was beginning to favor greater rights for women. In 1875, a royal decree from King Christian IX opened Danish universities to women. Nielsine was one of the first two female students to enroll. She graduated as Denmark’s first female physician in 1885.
Nielsine planned to specialize in gynecology, but she could not secure a position at a Danish hospital because the country’s only gynecologist (F. Howitz) objected to her appointment. Instead, Nielsine opened a private practice. Eventually, she became a well-respected physician. In 1906, Nielsine was named as an expert in sexually transmitted infections by the Copenhagen government.