Book review: Uppity Women We Are!

by Eileen Nason Cambon, MD, CM

Book cover for Uppity Women We Are!

Uppity Women We Are! 100-Year History of Medical Women of British Columbia (1893–1993) by Eileen Nason Cambon, MD, CM. Vancouver, Vancouver Desktop Publishing Centre Ltd., 2008. ISBN 978-0-9694983-1-5. Paperback, 536 pages. $43 (Duthie Books); $47.95 (UBC Bookstore).

The main content of this book was developed when the author sent out requests for an autobiography to over 600 female physicians in BC between 1999 and 2000. Approximately 160 re­­plies were received. The author does not state how she selected the women or whether the process was, indeed, random or selective. Be that as it may, the result is a collection of stories—from brief paragraphs to detailed accounts—telling the tales of these women, many of whom were pioneers in our profession.

Most of the stories are autobiographical, some are written by family members (such as the one on Dr Irene Clearihue written by her daughter Dr Joyce Clearihue), and a few of the earliest ones are compiled from the archives of BC history. The stories are divided by decade from 1893 to 1993.

This is not a book that one reads from cover to cover but rather ex­plores by skipping from one story to another as the mind desires. I checked out a few of my mentors (Doris Kav­anagh, Josephine Mallek, and Erica Creighton), a couple of my contem­poraries (Vera Frinton and Holly Ste­vens), plus a number of stories at random. Fascinating details of life in early BC days emerged in addition to a reminder of the ravages of the Second World War as a number of the women or their parents landed on Canadian shores after that conflict. All of the stories that I read were interesting and gave food for thought.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of medicine or the history of women’s rights. It is a stark reminder of how much we have gained—from the days when most medical schools refused entry to women, to the present when women make up approximately 60% of medical students in Canada. Certainly, this book should be included in the College of Physicians and Surgeons library as well any college or university library where health care professionals are taught.


Lindsay M. Lawson, MD. Book review: Uppity Women We Are!. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 2, March, 2009, Page(s) 64 - News.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply