Board meetings presented a challenge. Respected at home, as one of the four boarded emergency physicians in the state, and accustomed to taking action on my own, I did not understand why my comments and suggestions were summarily dismissed or ignored. It always threw me for a loop when, later in the meeting, my idea would be presented by one of the men, discussed, and often unanimously approved.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 37 – No 05 – May 2018
I lived in a world that was not female-friendly, so I learned to beat the system by being creative. When my local bank would not lend me money without the signature of my husband, Kork, I took the papers home for “him” to sign over the weekend because “he was on the tugboat when the bank was open Monday through Friday.” Since my tubal ligation permit required my husband’s signature while the vasectomy form did not require mine, I asked the physician to step out of the room to let us discuss it. Kork and I winked at each other as I signed the paper twice, once with my name and once with his.
I quickly adapted to the Board norm and made sure that my ideas were well implanted in the mind of at least one colleague before I brought them up at the Board. During an ACEP meeting on a beach at the Del in San Diego, the “girls” and I crafted talking points for my solution to the loss of members to splinter groups. We planned the structure of what we called sections, discussed strategy, and debated which Board member would become my messenger. Then in casual conversations, I carefully planted seeds of the idea with selected staff, Board, and non-Board members; the rest is history.
All three men elected with me in 1982 were ultimately elected Treasurer and Vice President. Two went on to become ACEP Presidents. I failed to recognize at the time that there was a series of glass ceilings. I cracked the first when I agreed to run for the Board. With the help of Ellen, Elizabeth Fields, MD, and Vera Morkovin, MD, it finally broke. I ran for Treasurer my last three years on the Board, but, it wasn’t until Ellen became the first woman treasurer in 1986 that ACEP had its first female officer. Although she was elected Vice President the next year, she could not break that last glass ceiling. She never became President Elect or President, a fate shared by Charlotte Yeh, MD, FACEP, who became Treasurer (1991), then Vice President, but never President.