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Virginia Minnich – Oral History Transcription (Cont.)

Brodman: Do you think it would have made any difference in the way people treated you if you had either one of them – a Ph.D., or an M.D.?

Minnich: No, but I think it might have made a difference in my salary.

Brodman: That is certainly true. He didn’t see that at all; he didn’t think it was important?

Minnich: I don’t think so.

Brodman: Is that because he thought women didn’t need to be upwardly mobile?

Minnich: I think he had some feelings in that direction.

Brodman: I have heard those stories about him. In general, did you feel that women were treated as well as men here?

Minnich: No, I don’t think they are.

Brodman: Ever? Not now?

Minnich: Not now, not ever.

Brodman: Besides your not being allowed to, or given the time to, or whatever to get your M.D. or Ph.D., what happened to you that makes you feel this way?

Minnich: Well I have really been very lucky, I have really been lucky to be a Professor in Medicine without an M.D., or a Ph.D. That was later on.

Brodman: After Dr. Moore’s death?

Minnich: Yes, that was after Dr. Moore’s death. Dr. Majerus was the one who supported me for a professorship and I got it.

Brodman: Why didn’t they give it to you previously?

Minnich: Well, I didn’t get the Honorary Doctor of Science until 1972.

Brodman: What do you think the Medical Center ought to do in order to treat its women equally with its men?

Minnich: Well I think one thing is that if you knew salaries, which are always confidential, it would help. But these are confidential so we will never get that information. Women will never know what the men are making and when they do they get so mad.

Brodman: Is it only salaries that show a tendency to treat men and women differently, or were there other subtle things?

Minnich: With me, it was primarily salary. When Dr. Harrington took over the Division of Hematology in 1954, he said it was silly that I was getting so low a salary, so he almost doubled in his first year. Then Dr. Elmer Brown got me the research associate professorship. That was the time I was going to leave, but didn’t.

Brodman: Where would you have gone at that time?

Minnich: I wrote to Virgil Clock [?] at the Rockefeller Institute and told him I wanted a job, a permanent job, and that I’d go any place in the world. I showed the letter to Dr. Brown and Dr. Moore. Elmer asked me, “Do you want to leave?” I said, “No, I didn’t want to leave, but I can’t put up with the way things are.” So he got me the research associate professorship. That was in 1967. That was the first time I ever complained in my life.

Brodman: Why did you wait so long?

Minnich: Because I was satisfied. But when someone else got a research associate professorship who had a Ph.D., I’d had enough. I asked, “Is this the reason I’ve not been advanced – that I haven’t a Ph.D.?” The answer was, “Yes.” I said, “I can’t take this, especially after Dr. Moore had said I didn’t need a Ph.D.”

Brodman: How long between the time Dr. Moore told you [that] you didn’t need a Ph.D., and 1967?

Minnich: He always told me that, from 1942 onward. You see, I wanted to stop work and go to medical school. I should never have listened to him. It’s my own fault. I had a friend at Vanderbilt and could have gotten in there. But during the Second World War we were so short of people. They really needed us, anyone who could work.

Brodman: You also did a lot of teaching while you were here. Were you the first one to make audiovisual teaching aids?

Minnich: I was working on them [at] the same time they were working on them in the dental school. But there weren’t very many teaching aids at that time. Actually, the way I got interested was through the 3M machine, Sound on Slides, an audiovisual device with little audio disks on the slides that could be used to provide explanation/description. Then, when the McDonnell Science Building was built we got money. So I ordered three machines; then I had to do something with them. And so I wrote the slide descriptions on the audiovisuals.

Brodman: How had you been teaching previously?

Minnich: Oh, just with talking and lectures.

Brodman: Do you find audiovisual methods good for teaching?

Minnich: I find them wonderful. I don’t know how good they are for the students but to me it’s good. They look at them and I don’t have to go over everything.

Brodman: Are you still teaching? You’re an Emerita Professor?

Minnich: I am now working on the audiovisual aids. This is called Blood and Bone Marrow Cell Recognition. I have turned it over to the American Society of Clinical Pathology and they are going to publish this. There are 10 units with 40 slides per unit. Ten of these slides are question slides for self-teaching and the other 30 slides are descriptive. I am on Unit 8, just about ready to send in Unit 8, and rewriting one, two and three – just a few descriptions that the publishers have sent back.

Brodman: Then you will be through pretty soon?

Minnich: Then I go back on staff July 1, part-time at Barnes. This is really as an Assistant Director of Hematology, but all the laboratory medicine staff there are on Washington University’s payroll. So I actually go back on the Washington University payroll and my title will be Emerita Professor and Lecturer.

Brodman: You’re pleased to continue your work here, you don’t want to retire?

Minnich: Not yet. Maybe someday I will.

Brodman: You have had so many honors, I am impressed with them. What do you do that brings you the most pleasure?

Minnich: What honors? Well the Honorary Doctor of Science degree was the one that really . . .

Brodman: You didn’t have anything to do with William Woods College before?

Minnich: There is a Professor of Biology at William Woods. She had some training with us in 1941 and she called me one day to ask if I would help her with a paper on sickle cell anemia. We worked and she went to Dr. Moore and told him she thought I should have an Honorary Doctor of Science degree. He agreed. She is the one who did it.

Brodman: I can’t think of a better person to honor.

Minnich: I really was surprised when I got that letter.

Brodman: That is a very nice surprise. Is there anything else which I didn’t cover?

Minnich: I don’t think there is much else.

Brodman: What about the changes here at the Medical Center?

Minnich: Oh, yes, the changes. I wrote down a few here, more buildings, many more people, everything now disposable. We used to have to be so saving of glass during the war it was just awful. Now money is more free. It used to be very tight.

Brodman: I wonder if that is going to continue now that the granting programs are being cut back.

Minnich: I think the ones that are doing good work will continue to get grants. I think they will cut out grants that are not so important. In our department we seem to have no problems at all. Maybe we will, I don’t know. We will have to see. You asked me who was here when I came. Dr. Evarts Graham was here, I think the Coris were here, too, I am not sure.

Brodman: Well at least Carl Cori was here when I came in 1961.

Minnich: I am not sure if they were here in 1938. There was Dr. Philip Shaffer, of course. He was the Dean. Dr. Robert Moore in Pathology; Dr. Mildred Trotter was here, and Dr. Margaret Smith, Dr. Cowdry, and Dr. Erlanger.

Brodman: In general what were they like? Were they all research-minded, all good teachers?

Minnich: Dr. Carl Moore was an excellent teacher. He was a good teacher, good researcher, good administrator. He was really a wonderful man. Honestly, some things I didn’t agree with but . . . really he was excellent. He was interested in patients and he wasn’t interested in getting a lot of money. He was really good with patients and he was a good clinician and a good hematologist. He could do his own blood counts and his own differentials.

Brodman: I didn’t realize he had been in Ohio? He came from St. Louis.

Minnich: He had an American College of Physicians scholarship.

Brodman: So he was in Ohio just a few years.

Minnich: He was in Ohio from, I think, about 1932 to 1938.


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