Florence Kimball

Diversity Rx: CVM pushes new efforts to create an inclusive community


Chronological listing of milestones related to women in veterinary medicine.

Woman at Cornell Underlines Rise of New Breed of Veterinary Student

Over the last forty years, veterinary medicine has become feminized.

Florence Kimbell

Florence Kimball D.V.M. 1910 was the first woman in the United States to receive the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. One of 22 students in her class, Kimball attended the College of Veterinary Medicine from 1907 to 1910. Following graduation, she moved to Massachusetts, where she established a small animal practice and boarding facility. After earning a nursing degree, Kimball served as the head nurse in the Department of Contagious Diseases at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, followed by a role as night nursing supervisor at Oklahoma University Medical Teaching Hospital for 17 years. In addition to Kimball, seven of the first 11 women to become licensed veterinarians in the United States were Cornell graduates.

Diversity Rx: CVM pushes new efforts to create an inclusive community

Diversity and inclusion: two words used frequently in organizational discussions, mission statements and national dialogues around policy and politics. With so much mention, the words can run the risk of losing meaning. Yet they represent values that have shaped Cornell — an institution where “any person can find instruction in any study.”

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Two students in a pathology lab in 1976.

A chronological listing of milestones related to women in veterinary medicine. Below is an excerpt relevant to me – I applied to veterinary school in 1973.

1969-1970 The national average for veterinary medical college male enrollment is 89 percent.5

1972 Title IX of the Education Amendments, which abolished gender discrimination in federally funded education, is passed into law. “The thought was that women would get married, start families and drop out of the program,” notes Bonnie V. Beaver, DVM, Dipl. ACVD, a professor at Texas A&M University and a past AVMA president, of the mindset before 1972. “The profession needed veterinarians and it was thought that it wasn’t worth the risk to have a woman take a seat that could be occupied by a man.”

For the expanded history, Click HERE

“Until 1970, only a small number of seats were made available to female applicants. Mary Smith, D.V.M. ’72, professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, recalls her application process to the college. “After fifty-eight men had been selected, four women were summoned to the Hagan Room,” Smith says. “We were told, ‘Two of you we will accept and two we will reject,’ and one at a time we were called out for an interview.” Times changed. New admission policies caused a 500 percent increase in women admitted to Cornell between 1971 and 1977.” (Courtesy: Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine)
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In 1933, the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania voted to admit women to the course in veterinary medicine, provided “that no concessions be made in regard to the work required.” At the 1938 Commencement, the University awarded the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to Mary Josephine Deubler, the first woman to earn the VMD degree at Penn.


Here is a breakdown of enrollment male and female students at U Penn Vet School from 1970 to 1985, the first class with an equal number of men and women.
My class (V78) was 43% female

Cornell was slower than Penn to admit women in any numbers to its veterinary school, even though they did graduate a woman in 1910. Here is an article from 1977 that leads with an annoying profile of a woman in the Cornell Vet School class of 1981 and tells us how attractive this smart woman is, and how shocking it is that more than half her class (52%) are women.

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Over the last forty years, veterinary medicine has become feminized. One of the reasons there is an uptick of enrollment in 1973 is that was the year after Title IX was passed. Title IX was a federal law that stipulated that any college that received federal funding could not discriminate in admissions.

Click HERE to read the article