Celebrating Women in Pharmacy: Zada Mary Cooper (1875-1961)

ZMCSpecial Note: During the Month of March, we will be highlighting women in pharmacy (past and present) who have contributed significantly during the profession.

In the midst of the early 20th century, one of two women graduating from the State University of Iowa would be embarking on a journey that not only would change the profession of pharmacy and associated organizations, but also would uplift the spirits and inspire many women to pursue a career in pharmacy; her name was Zada Mary Cooper.

Cooper taught as an associate professor in pharmaceutical arithmetic and laboratory courses and had an enormous impact on her students whom claimed that her availability, ability to sympathize and encourage every student to make their own decisions separated her from the other professors of her time. The real reason

behind her title “Grand and Glorious Lady of Pharmacy” stemmed from her life long desire to encourage young women to study pharmacy and become great pharmacist.

As an advocate for women within the profession, Cooper joined the American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA) in 1909 and furthermore initiated the women’s section of APhA in which she was elected president for in 1917. Cooper also became secretary for American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) from 1922 to 1942. In addition to the roles within APhA and AACP, Cooper founded Kappa Epsilon and became the first president of Rho Chi Society. Her interest in advocating to women to join the profession of pharmacy was not specifically confined to APhA.  In the same year, the Women’s Section of APhA deliberated on providing a nationwide organization for women pharmacist and eventually a pharmaceutical sorority was being considered. On May 13th, 1921, Kappa Epsilon was formed at the University of Iowa and there would be no one more qualified than Cooper who would serve as the chairman. The impact that she would make while serving as chairman would sculpt the way women would practice within the profession for the next 80 years. She continued well after her retirement in 1942 to attend conventions and be involved with Kappa Epsilon until around 1947. In addition, Zada Cooper dedicated much of her time to help the American Association of University Women to approve a Bachelor of Science degree for alumni of pharmacy colleges that would be successfully implemented in 1942.

As a modest woman and heavy advocator for women in the profession of pharmacy, Zada Cooper demonstrated through her lifetime the importance of how neither a man nor woman can change the lives of others alone, and it is imperative that pharmacy professionals broaden their horizons and come together as one.

Reference: Henderson, M. (1998). Zada Mary Cooper: Grand and Glorious Lady of Pharmacy. Pharmacy in History, 40(2), 77-84. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41111877?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Contributed by: Chad Sims, P2, Class of 2018

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