Pharmacy Alumna Paves the Way for Women
Paving the Way
With bright red hair and a smile for everyone, Gloria Doughty is an alumna who paved the way for women at the UK College of Pharmacy. Just shy of her ninety-first birthday, Doughty remembers her time at UK fondly. “I went to school almost before penicillin,” she jokes.
At a time when very few women graduated with advanced degrees, Doughty’s parents supported her choice to attend the University. Only about 5 percent of women in the United States had completed more than four years of college, according to the 1950 Census. Yet Doughty graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Chemistry in 1948 and then enrolled at UK College of Pharmacy where she graduated in 1951. She was one of two women in her pharmacy class of 80 students.
Doughty had originally decided to go further north for her graduate degree. Her mom was living in Illinois and Doughty planned to live at home while attending pharmacy school. She arrived on campus in Illinois to visit with the dean of their pharmacy school. She tells the story with conviction, “The dean said, ‘What are you doing at the College of Pharmacy?’ And I said, ‘Well I have a degree in chemistry, I’ve gotten good grades, and I’m interested in pharmacy because I’m a people person and I don’t want to be a chemist.” Doughty pauses for effect, “And you know what he said to me? He said, ‘You women just waste our time and our money because you eventually stop to get married.’”
Doughty was quick with her reply, “I told him, ‘Obviously, Dean, you don’t know me. Thank you very much. I’m leaving, and I’m going to go to the College of Pharmacy at Kentucky.’”
And so, she did. Doughty called the dean at the UK College of Pharmacy where she had also been accepted. Even though classes had started, Dean Earl Sloan told her she was welcome. “He told me to come on down,” Doughty says.
"Women weren’t accepted as pharmacists. There were only two or three women practicing as pharmacists in Lexington at the time.
There were only two or three women practicing as pharmacists in Lexington at the time. If I got a job at the pharmacy, they wanted to put me out front selling sundries instead of actually working behind the counter."
Facing Obstacles Head-on
When asked about the challenges she faced in school, she chuckles. “There were quite a few.” During the summers, Doughty worked to put herself through school by interning at pharmacies or the hospital. “Women weren’t accepted as pharmacists,” Doughty remembers. “There were only two or three women practicing as pharmacists in Lexington at the time. If I got a job at the pharmacy, they wanted to put me out front selling sundries instead of actually working behind the counter.”
Eventually, Doughty found a family-owned pharmacy willing to hire her: Hubbard and Curry Pharmacy in Lexington, Ky. “They would have me work in the back office, and when it got busy in the pharmacy I could help. Since I had a chemistry background, I was able to compound medications for them. I loved mixing things.”
After graduating, Doughty worked to mentor both students and pharmacists at UK’s Chandler Medical Center. It was at UK where Doughty would also meet her husband, Richard (Dick) Doughty. “It’s a classic UK story,” says Doughty. “I was invited to the building dedication for the new pharmacy building and was introduced to this new faculty member—Dick Doughty. Two years later we were married,” she says with a smirk. “I was an old woman by then too,” she jokes. “I was 32.”
Even though the Doughtys had no natural children of their own, in the 35 years they were involved with the UK College of Pharmacy, they welcomed a number of students into their home. They offered free room and board to students who would not be able to attend the University otherwise.
In all, the Doughtys sponsored eleven UK students, not all of them studying pharmacy. “I still communicate with many of them,” Doughty says. She tells stories of her UK “children” like any proud parent. The Doughty home was where students from as far as Australia and as close Kentucky could find a place to belong. And Doughty’s trailblazing spirit can still be seen at the UK College of Pharmacy, where women are now 62 percent of the student body.
Doughty was dedicated to pushing past the status quo and fighting for a better tomorrow. Her story is not just a Kentucky one, it’s a story about how we can all go beyond—beyond the script.