This weekend the newest members will be ushered into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. Charlotte Nelson, director of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, says it’s a difficult task to narrow down the nominations to the four women honored each year. One is Jeanette Eyerly, a writer and key figure in improving treatment for mental illness in Iowa.
The Community Mental Health Center Act was passed in 1963, and Nelson says Eyerly began working at the grassroots to establish an alternative to hospital care for people suffering from mental illness. Her work was effective, and a mental-health center built in Des Moines a few years later was named after Eyerly.
Another inductee is retired from the University of Iowa. Christine Grant headed women’s athletics there for years and was a leader in the advocacy for “Title Nine,” a program that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for any institution that gets federal funds. Nelson says that federal program’s known for equalizing funding for women’s school sports and boosting participation.
Dorothy Paul is best known for the years she spent heading the Iowa division of the United Nations Association. She was director from 1979 to 1996, organizing international conferences including one titled “Women Hold Up Half the Sky.” Paul also served as a delegate to the fourth World Conference on Women, in 1995 in China.
The late Margaret Sloss was the first woman to get a degree in veterinary medicine from Iowa State University. She was denied admission at first, but challenged it and not only took courses, but became a professor there. There’s a women’s center named after Sloss on the I-S-U campus today.
The Commission on the Status of Women is made up of four state lawmakers and nine citizen members. Nelson notes that like other state boards the Commission on the Status of Women is balanced with roughly half its members men and half woman. Though others may suggest or recommend it, Nelson says “Iowa is the only state that actually mandates gender balance on state boards and commissions.”
Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson will preside, Girl Scouts will provide an honor guard at the ceremony on Saturday (at 10:30 AM) at the Iowa History Center in Des Moines, and it’s open to the public.
Related web sites:
Iowa Womens Hall of Fame