“Since I was nine years old, I've wanted to spend my life helping people.”
“PARTICIPATING IN 3,000 MIRACLES, ONE BY ONE...”
"I stopped counting when I reached ten," said Judith Mates "but every time a baby is born, it's really exciting; like participating in a miracle." For more than thirty years-and an estimated 3,000 babies later, she has been a mainstay of the San Francisco health community, seeing to it that women, especially pregnant women, receive the highest care both before and after giving birth.
She says, "I am interested in preventive health care and like to work with patients who are interested in developing habits leading to a healthy lifestyle and prevention of illness."
Nominating her to be a Local Legend, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-8), noted that Mates was born and raised in her Congressional district and that it was fortunate that "at a time when not many women were in the graduating classes of medical schools," she returned to San Francisco. Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, who also nominated Mates, respectively praised her for being "an outstanding example of an American woman who has made a lifelong commitment to patient care" and for "her relentless support for women in her field."
A Life Member of the American Medical Women's Association, Mates is an ob/gyn specialist at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group Santa Terese Medical Center and also serves as Assistant Clinical Profess at the University of California School of Medicine. She takes a particular interest in mentoring women medical students because of her own experience during the 1960s, when women students were few and far between and pregnant female medical students like her were even rarer.
She recalls, "I arranged my vacation so the baby would arrive between rotations. But the chief of the department, a good-old boy obstetrician who never got over the fact that there were women coming into his specialty and always referred to us as "girls," made the mistake of referring to my time off as maternity leave. I don't usually get angry but I set him straight and said this was planned vacation, not maternity leave.
"As I look back, part of the motivation for what I did was the fact many female residents in the past, maybe 20 years before me, had successfully completed their training, but were essentially married to their work. Most of them sacrificed family and children for a career. I wanted it all. So somehow I felt I had to fit in, and show that a woman could do it and could be one of the boys. I succeeded. But I was really lucky. I was healthy, the baby was healthy, and I had a very supportive husband."
Based on her experience, she advises aspiring women physicians to "Learn not only the medicine you need to know but the politics you need to know. When you talk about leaders, you are talking about the movers and shakers of our society and when you are talking about the movers and shakers, you are talking about politics. Everything is political. Medicine is political. You must get political and you must do it early in your career."
Earns M.D. degree, begins specializing in obstetrics and gynecology
Becomes second female to be elected president of the San Francisco Medical Society in its 136-year history
Tufts University School of Medicine
Obstetrics and Gynecology