Students at the University of Sydney

The first women students and graduates

In 1881 Senate unanimously decided to allow the admission of women, and the passing of the University Amendment Act in 1884 secured the legal rights of women at Sydney University.

When the School of Dentistry opened at the University of Sydney in 1901 offering a curriculum of three years leading to a Licence in Dentistry, the first 17 students included two women.

On this webpage:


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View more information and photos about early Dentistry students.


Faculty of Dentistry 1920

Milestones

1901: The School of Dentistry opened at the University of Sydney offering a curriculum of three years leading to a Licence in Dentistry. There were 17 students, including two women: Beatrice Larkin and Annie Praed. Larkins repeated Year 1, but did not continue the course and became a nurse. Praed was one of the first Bachelor of Dental Surgery graduates in 1906.
1905: The first women to be awarded the short-lived Licence in Dental Surgery were Margaret (Madge) Barnes (later Maltby-Robinson) and Annie Praed.
  A four year Bachelor of Dental Surgery course was introduced and special arrangements were made to permit students holding the Licence of Dentistry to be admitted to the degree after a year of further study. The degree guaranteed men and women the right to practise in dentistry. However, the prejudice against women entering the profession was very strong and had the effect of keeping numbers of women Dentistry students and graduates low for many years.
1906: The first 13 candidates admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery included two women who became the first women to graduate in Dentistry from an Australian university – Margaret (Madge) Barnes (later Maltby-Robinson) and Annie Praed.
1920: A separate Faculty of Dentistry was established.
1938: Annie Praed was the first woman in Australia to be awarded a Doctorate of Dental Science.
1939: The new Dental Hospital building in Chalmers Street, adjoining the old building, provided special accommodation for women dental students, and it was hoped that the better facilities would encourage more women to enrol.
1941: Helen Patison (later Cotton) graduated Bachelor of Dental Surgery with first class honours and was the first woman to win the University Medal for Dentistry. She also won Professor E S Wallace's prize for general proficiency throughout the course, the Leslie R Carroll Memorial Prize, Professor A J Arnott's prize for oral surgery, Dr H R Kemp's prize for conduction anaesthesia and Mr W Alan Grainger's prize for ceramics.
1951: Susan Hull was the first woman to qualify as Master of Dental Surgery.
1963: Doreen Musgrove (later Rouse) (BDS 1937) became the flrst pedodontist to be so registered in NSW and the first woman dental specialist in Australia.
1970: It was only in the 1970s that women began to enter Dentistry in visible numbers.
2005: Veronica Lambert (BDS 1982) received the 2005 Alumni Award for Achievement in Community. 
2012: There were 256 women and 279 men enrolled in the Faculty as at 31 March.

Gallery

In the early 1900s
Annie Praed and Margaret Barnes with their male colleagues on the day they graduated in 1906

Annie Praed (left) and Margaret Barnes (later Maltby-Robinson) with their male colleagues on the day they graduated Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1906, image G3_224_1482, University of Sydney Archives. They were first two women Dentistry graduates.

Dulcie Skinner (later Barr) and Hazel Crow (later Newman)  1919

Dulcie Skinner (later Barr) on left and Hazel Crow (later Newman) on right, both in Dentistry I, in the 1919 Faculty of Dentistry photograph, photo G3_224_1299, University of Sydney Archives. They both graduated Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1923.

In the 1920s
Hazel Crow Hazel Crow (later Newman)
was one of the first two
women to graduate in
1923, after 9 years
absence of women
Dentistry graduates,
photo, Sunday Times,
18 March 1923,
National Library of
Australia
.
Dulcie Skinner Dulcie Skinner (later Barr) 
was the other, photo,
Sunday Times, 18 March
1923, National Library of
Australia
. Dulcie took up
her profession because
her father was a
dentist, and in 1937 she
was the only woman on
the Dental Congress
Commission and
vice-chairman of the
Dental Health Section
of the Congress.  

In the 1930s
Joan Katherine Bates  
Joan Bates
graduated BDS in 1934.
In 1939 she replaced
Dulcie Skinner as dentist
at the Royal Alexandria
Children's Hospital,
photo, The Sydney
Morning Herald, 1 May 1939,
National Library of Australia
Doreen Musgrove (later Rouse) 
Doreen Musgrove 
(later Rouse) 
graduated BDS in 1937. She
became the flrst pedodontist
to be so registered in NSW
and the first woman dental
specialist in Australia,
photo G3/224/2126,
University Archives
.

Women Dentistry students in 1937 
Women Dentistry students, from left: June Allen (BDS 1939), Joan Groundwater
(BDS '39), Ellice Weir (BDS '43), Roma Ryan, Rosslyn Griffiths (BDS '40), Eila
Bruce 
(BDS '40), Elizabeth Detrich, Joan Brooks & Doreen Musgrove 
(later Rouse) (BDS '37) (seated middle) acted as registrars on the first day
of the 90th Australian Dental Congress at the University 16-20 August 1937 
and would guide visitors / attend functions,
photo, G3/224/2126, University of Sydney Archives.

Miss Annie Praed

Annie Praed, the first woman in Australia to gain a Doctorate of Dental Science, in 1937, photo from 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 12 August 1937, National Library of Australia.

The two women students in Third Year Dentistry in 1939

Eila Bruce (later Edye) (left) and Rosslyn Griffiths (later Stirton) (right), the two women students in Third Year Dentistry in 1939, photo G3_224_2127, University of Sydney Archives. They both graduated Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1940, and Bruce became a dentist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital before her marriage.

In the 1940s
Helen Patison (later Cotton) 

 

Helen Patison (later Cotton)
graduated BDS with first
class honours and was the
first woman to win the
University Medal for
Dentistry, in 1941,
photo, 'The Australian
Women's Weekly',
28 February 1942
,
National Library of Australia.


Mrs Barbara Davidson, BDS 1944

Mrs Barbara Davidson (BDS 1944) went to New Guinea in 1947 to take part in a Commonwealth Nutrition survey and trained a native, Nanki, as a dental technician. She is pictured above testing saliva samples at Kiriwena, New Guinea, photo, The Australian Women's Weekly, 29 June 1966, National Library of Australia.

In the 1950s
1950

Susan Hull (later Burns) (MDS 1951), Norma Corday and Shirley Stanley (later Jolly) (BDS 1950) were members of the Dental Ball committee which was organising the annual ball to be held at the Trocadero on 6 July 1950, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 1950, National Library of Australia.

Susan Hull (later Burns) 
Susan Hull (later Burnes)
graduated
Master of Dental Surgery
on 19 May 1951. She was
 the first woman to do so,
photo, 'The Sunday Herald',
20 May 1951,
National Library of Australia
Susan was a Teaching
Fellow on the staff of the
Dental Hospital and
specialised in
children's dentistry.

Members of the Sydney University Dental Undergraduates Association 1952

Members of the Sydney University Dental Undergraduates Association planning the 1952 Christmas barbecue: Peggy Roche (BDS 1954), Trixie McGirr (later Gardner) (BDS 1954), Mrs John Milton and Barbara Murphy (BDS 1953), photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 1952, National Library of Australia.

Trixie McGirr (later Gardner) 
Trixie McGirr (later Gardner)
graduated BDS on
on 29 January 1954,
photo, 'The Sydney Morning
Herald', 28 January 1954
,
NLA. Trixie set up a practice
with her husband Kevin
(BDS 1954) in London,
& in 2007 became
Honorary Fellow of the
University of Sydney.
Renate Raubitschek
Renate Raubitschek
graduated BDS on
on 29 January 1954,
photo, 'The Sydney Morning
Herald', 21 January 1954
,
National Library of Australia.
She planned to specialise
in pedidenture, as did another
graduate, Susan Milton.
 Margaret Roche
Margaret Roche
graduated BDS on
on 29 January 1954,
photo, 'The Sydney Morning
Herald', 28 January 1954
,
NLA. The first dental
graduate from Sancta
Sophia College, she was
on the staff of Sydney
Dental Hospital. 

In the 1980s
Veronica Lambert

Veronica Lambert graduated Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1982. She received the University's 2005 Alumni Award for Achievement in Community in recognition of her selfless and courageous work as a forensic dentist, photo, copyright Liz Cartwright.

Today
The Chancellor and Jacinda Matthews, Bachelor of Oral Health graduate in April 2012

The Chancellor and Jacinda Matthews, Bachelor of Oral Health graduate in April 2012, photo, University of Sydney News ... more.

Information sources
  • University of Sydney Calendar Archive
  • National Library of Australia historic newspapers


Lis Bergmann, 2013