Author: Bert McClary
In early April I saw a news segment titled “When Women Rule the World,” featuring Tina Brown discussing her 10th annual “Women in the World” conference. Just a week before I had seen four women on the stage, and no men, taking the MSHP oath of office, administered to them by a fifth woman. It was the first time that had occurred.
We have had women active in MSHP since the beginning. Today they outnumber the men and are a driving force in the organization, but it wasn’t always that way. Even though there was no effort to exclude women from leadership or recognition, there was still an occasional unintended chauvinistic characteristic that came through.
Eleven of 54 registrants for the organizational meeting in 1970 were women, five of them members of religious orders, and one, Sister Jane McMenamy, had served on the original organizing committee from 1969. Among women in hospital pharmacy during the early years, more were nuns because hospitals operated by religious orders funded pharmacy education for their staff. Both the Metropolitan St. Louis Hospital Pharmacists Association and the Greater Kansas City Society of Hospital were formed by nuns. A notable Missourian who participated in the preparation of the landmark 1964 Mirror to Hospital Pharmacy was Sister Mary Berenice, Director of Pharmacy at St. Mary’s Hospital, St. Louis.
While gender was not called out as a specific issue in the early years, the first female elected MSHP officer was Secretary (of course) in 1973, and female membership was usually 10 to 20 percent. There was also an MSHP BOP Advisory Committee memo that went out announcing a new BOP Executive Secretary, the managing staff employee of the Board (male, of course), “as well as a woman on the Board” (a Board member appointed by the Governor). The memo did not include the name of either person, but the fact of a female appointee was notable. Women as BOP appointees are frequent now. The BOP has had five Executive Secretaries during the last 50 years, and the last two have been females.
We have had many women serve in important positions of leadership as elected officers, members of the board of directors, and committee chair positions through the years, but it was 16 years before we elected our first woman MSHP president, Bonnie Grabowski, in 1986. There have been 15 female presidents in 50 years; however we have done better recently, as 11 of our presidents in the last 20 years have been women, including five of the last seven.
WOW (Women of the World)!