Women who have influenced the field of optometry

March 15, 2017
Women who influenced optometry

Somewhere back around 1899, Gertrude Stanton of Minneapolis, Minnesota became the first licensed female optometrist. She was soon followed by Mollie Armstrong, who opened her own practice, and became the second female optometrist in the United States. Since then, women have been working hard to make a name for themselves in the industry. March is National Women's History Month, and we want to recognize the women in optometry.

 Here is a brief timeline and the names of the women who have influence the field of optometry and added their talents to the AOA:  

1898: Two women were charter members when the AOA was created-one of which was optometrist and respected lecturer Edith Gallup, of Denver, encouraged other women to join the profession, even offering advice on what female optometrists should wear to appear professional. In 1907, Gallup was elected vice president of the American Association of Opticians (a previous name of the AOA).  

1911: After the male president and vice president both became ill and were unable to attend the meeting, D. Elva Cooper of Bradford, Pennsylvania, the second vice president of the AOA, was next in line to be presiding officer and was elected.  

1920: Dr. Mae Booth-Jones becomes the first female president of an optometry school, Washington School of Optometry, in Spokane, Washington.  

1993: Joan Exford, O.D., becomes the first female president of the American Academy of Optometry.

2010: Col. Carol Z. Rymer, O.D., M.B.A., is the first female optometrist to become a colonel in the U.S. Army.

2011: Dori Carlson, O.D., becomes the first female president of the AOA. She was also the first woman to lead the North Dakota Optometric Association.

2013: Jennifer Smythe Coyle, O.D., M.S., becomes the first female president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.   

2016: Andrea P. Thau, O.D. becomes the second female president of the AOA.

Although women made up less than 2% of the profession in 1976, they now make up about 38% of the profession (compared with 39% of AOA members), according to Women in Optometry. That number is expected grow as 65-75% of optometry students are women.   The MOA thanks and applauds the women who have been a part of the field of optometry both in the past and present.

The Minnesota Optometric Association has approximately 400 member doctors of optometry around the state. The MOA is committed to furthering awareness of optometrists as primary eye care or family eye doctors and to bringing about change that positively impacts the MOA member doctors and their patients.

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