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Doctor Aleu, the first woman doctor in Spain

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Doctor Dolors Aleu (Barcelona, 1857–1913) was the first woman to study medicine in Spain. She completed her university education in 1879 but was not granted permission to take the graduation exam until 1882, when she also obtained her doctorate. She fought single handedly to achieve a medical degree, moved by the conviction that denying access to it was an act of social injustice towards women. “Despite there being so many social concerns, we are denied instruction, and the poor women who actually make the superhuman effort of reaching the fountains of science are constantly ridiculed...”

In her doctoral thesis, entitled “On the need to set the hygienic and moral education of women on a new course,” she harshly criticised discrimination against women in all realms of life, the social hypocrisy that bans women from education, arguing that they are weak and have to bear the burden of families, while neither is taken into account when it comes to putting them to work like dogs on farms or in factories, as well as the unhealthiness of female attire, particularly corsets.

Dr Aleu married and had two children, but this did not prevent her from practising medicine until her death at the age of 56.