Skip to content
Home » Holiday Vet Blog » 5 Female Veterinarians That Led The Way

5 Female Veterinarians That Led The Way

In honor of Women’s History Month, the all-female management team at Holiday Vet is taking a look back at women in veterinary history. Even though now there are many female veterinary graduates and practicing veterinarians, it hasn’t always been this way. We’ve highlighted five historical female veterinarians that you should know. 

First Female Veterinarian In Europe, Dr. Marie Kapczewitsch

We start with the origin of the study of veterinary medicine: late 19th century France. Just 30 years after its founding, the National Veterinary School of Alfort, France, saw its first female student graduate, Dr. Marie Kapczewitsch in 1897. She started attending classes to take care of her own pets, but was so engrossed, she turned to veterinary medicine as a profession.

First Female Veterinarian in the United States, Dr. Elinor McGrath

Shifting to the US, we have a few early female veterinary graduates: Mignon Nicholson in 1903, Florence Kimball, 1910, and Elinor McGrath, also 1910.We have little to no records of Nicholson and Kimball practicing. However,  Elinor McGrath, a Chicago Veterinary College graduate, was a small animal veterinarian for 37 years. At the time, large animal practice was more common due to the use of horses in farm work and as transport, so the focus on pets was doubly novel. The first female member of the AVMA, McGrath also established Chicago’s first pet cemetery.


One of the First Female Black Veterinarians, Dr. Jane Hinton

Dr. Jane Hinton was born in Massachusetts in 1919. Her father, William August Hinton, was a bacteriologist and one of the most prominent African American medical researchers of his time. We mentioned Dr. Hinton briefly in our article on Black Historical Veterinarians, but wanted to give her a larger profile.

At the beginning of her career, she and John Howard Mueller developed the Mueller-Hinton agar, the gold standard in culture mediums for antibiotic testing. After World War II, Hinton turned to veterinary medicine, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1949, the same year as Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb. Dr. Hinton practiced as a small animal veterinarian in Canton, Massachusetts, until 1955. She then joined the Department of Agriculture as a federal government inspector to research and respond to disease outbreaks in livestock.

A Groundbreaking Behavioralist and Veterinarian, Dr. Sophia Yin

A phenomenal veterinarian, behavioralist, author and spokesperson, Dr. Sophia Yin received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1993 from the University of California Davis. Her time in private practice showed her how high the euthanasia rate for emotionally problematic animals was, leading her to focus on animal behavior. She developed Low-Stress Handling® for dogs. She also created the “Treat and Train” reward-based training system, building the bond between pet owners and their pets.

 The author of seven books, a newspaper column, and a featured vet on television, Dr Yin brought about a change in how we treat our animals, and how we can better understand them. 

Her death by suicide also launched the Not One More Vet (#NOMV) campaign on suicide awareness for veterinarians

First Female Dean of a Veterinary College, Dr. Shirley D Johnston

Dr. Shirley Johnston graduated from Washington State University in 1974, kicking off a career destined to go down in history. Over 40 years, she became a trailblazer in the field of theriogenology and a leader in education as a lecturer, author, researcher, and advocate. Here’s an abridged list of her firsts:

  • 1989: First female president of the American College of Theriogenologists 
  • 1998: First female dean to open and head a college of veterinary medicine at Western University of Health Science’s College of Veterinary Medicine 
  • 2000: First woman member and president of the International Executive Committee of the International Congress on Animal Reproduction (ICAR) in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Female Veterinary Trailblazers Did More Than Just Treat Pets

Opening those first doors is hard. As you can see, these five phenomenal women gave others a path to follow not just in private practice, but as researchers, behaviorists, and educators. This is just a small selection of female veterinary professionals that paved the way for women in the field today. We hope that you find yourself inspired by these women and keep your passion for your career high.