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Posts Tagged ‘pharmacy in Indiana’

American Pharmacists Month: Were the first #STEMinists Pharmacists?

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

For those of you who don’t know, October is American Pharmacists’ Month.  And while I’m rocking this Kickstarter STEMPrincess project, I wanted to bring you a new twist on the holiday and national recognition of my peeps in pharmacy, both Indiana and STEM style!

First off, as pharmacy is a part of life sciences/STEM, and I’ve been shouting from the rooftops that we need more girlpower in STEM, I haven’t exactly connected the two up very much online.  Why?  Well, because the majority of pharmacists coming out of pharmacy schools now aren’t men…they are actually women.  Yes, women now dominate the profession (although, I’d personally still like to see more women in leadership roles within the profession, but I’ll save that rant for another day.)

Let’s go a different direction with this.

A friend of mine who is always watching my back from Historic Indianapolis gave me heads up on an article from the local paper dated September 30, 1979 that featured the very first woman who was a licensed pharmacist in the state of Indiana.  Her name was Ada Rush.  She passed the Indiana state pharmacy licensing exam in 1910.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: whoa, Albert. This STEM girl shortage rubber isn’t meeting the road here.  Why are there so many women in pharmacy (a life science, healthcare and STEM profession) when you keep on touting there aren’t that many women in STEM?

Back to Ada: she actually didn’t finish high school and got married at age 18.**  But, her husband, Leroy, was a pharmacist.  When Leroy and Ada opened up the second pharmacy, guess who was encouraged to head back to school to get a degree in pharmacy?

Yes! Leroy encouraged his wife Ada to head to the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy for the-then-13-month pharmacy degree program, so Ada could mind pharmacy #1 while her husband Leroy opened pharmacy #2.

Do you get where I’m going with this?  I’m trying to say that, in my own quirky way, my first profession (pharmacy) and the men within it were in this case, some of the very first STEMinists* in the state of Indiana!  Ada was the only woman in her pharmacy class, but she was urged by her husband, a pharmacist, to rock pharmacy school.

So, love to my fellow man and womankind pharmacists, and a particular universal shout out to both Ada and Leroy Rush, wherever in the universe they may be (Ada was 93 at the time this article was written in 1979).  For Indiana, Pharmacy, STEM and Hoosier women in general are the richer for both of them stepping up to the plate and showing the state of Indiana and the universe that men and women BOTH can rock STEM!

Last but not least, special shout out to all the men STEMinists out there.  Without you, we’d be even more behind in STEM, but thanks in part to you, we are moving on up even faster.  THANK YOU, GENTSTEMinists!  And let me finish with clarity: there still are NOT enough women in most if not all the other STEM professions.  We’ve still got a LOT of work to do here!


*STEMinist = a man or woman who encourages other women to get into a STEM profession.

**Actually, back in the 1900s, one didn’t need to be a high school graduate to attend pharmacy school.  That’s no longer the case.

***GENTSTEMinist = a man who encourages women to get into a STEM profession.