This Doctor Is the First Black Woman to Head Neurosurgery Department at Detroit Hospital

first female black neurosurgeon

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Meet Dr. Sonia Eden, the first Black woman to lead the adult neurosurgery department at the Detroit Medical Center.

Eden, who currently works at the DMC Harper University Hospital, is the new chief of neurosurgery and, despite working with the literal minds of others, uses another organ to describe her affection for Detroit.

“This is where my heart is,” Eden told local news ClickonDetroit. "This is where my home is. It means a lot to come back and help in the growth of a program, and something great for the citizens of Detroit."

It means a lot to come back and help in the growth of a program, and something great for the citizens of Detroit.

It also means a lot for both the Black and women communities, which are egregiously underrepresented in the medical field. First According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only 36 percent of doctors are women of any race. The number of Black women doctors is even smaller when you consider that a mere 5 percent of all active physicians are Black, despite Black people making up 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Eden broke that number down even further in her interview with ClickonDetroit, noting that when it comes to neurosurgery, "about 8 percent" of neurosurgeons are women.

Shockingly Low Numbers

"Of those women, approximately 33 are African Americans,” Eden told the outlet. “African American women in neurosurgery make up approximately 0.5 percent of neurosurgeons in this country.”

She went on to share that she hopes “to show every little girl out there that you can be whatever you want to be, you just set your mind forward and work hard, and you can do it."

Eden's efforts are being echoed elsewhere in the country, as evidenced by advocacy from emergency physician and assistant professor at New York University’s School of Medicine Uché Blackstock. Blackstock, also a Black woman, has been actively working on bringing more attention to the lack of "diversity within medicine’s top ranks" in an effort to "improve healthcare outcomes for all patients," as per a report in Fortune last year.

We know that having a diverse workforce is one of the solutions. It’s not the solution, but it’s one of them.


It's statistically proven that Black women have a high risk of heart disease and strokes. They are much more likely to die from childbirth and breast cancer than white women, which happens, in part, because white and male doctors have tended to dismiss the health concerns of people of color. Having more people of color, specifically Black women, could help combat that.

“Work needs to be done, and it needs to be a multipronged approach,” says Blackstock. "We know that having a diverse workforce is one of the solutions. It's not the solution, but it's one of them."

This post is part of a monthlong February CircleAround series tied to Black History Month — the first since the loud calls for social justice this past summer — in which we asked writers to explore the topic of race in America from a variety of perspectives. The murder of George Floyd last summer catalyzed a national reckoning on race, with many questions to be answered. To see all the posts in the series — including relevant news stories — visit hereAnd if you'd like to contribute to the series, send us your thoughts to info@circlearound.com or post on our "2021 Inspiration Wall."


CircleAround is operated by a wholly owned subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA. The site serves adult women nationwide by providing content that is uplifting, thought-provoking, and useful. We make revenue distributions back to GSUSA so they can further their mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

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