Examination of photographs in 100 years of communication from the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) illuminates the evolving role of women in professional medical regulation, a little-studied aspect of the history of women in medicine. Over the past century, the FSMB has communicated with professional stakeholders and the public through a variety of publications. Our review of photographic evidence from these sources reveals that women played important supportive roles as staff members and spouses from the beginning of the century. In the mid- to late 1980s, women moved into key governance and executive roles on a relatively consistent basis. Changing social norms, sponsorship from male leaders and early women leaders, and increasing visibility of women from other medical organizations were likely enablers of this change. Future work should explore the implications of women’s involvement in the medical regulatory boards—a question with heightened relevance today, given increasing attention to the boards’ oversight of medical practice, including reproductive healthcare.

In recent decades, scholars have focused increased attention on the history of women in medicine. The trajectory of women’s admission to medical schools, their career choices, and their involvement in the profession have been described. Biographers have documented the lives of pioneering physicians and detailed the key role that women physicians have played in public health and healthcare delivery during times of both peace and war.1-5 

Scholars have also explored the rich history of medical professional regulation, describing the regulation of undergraduate medical education, residency programs, hospitals, and individual practitioners.6-10  The regulation of individual physicians includes legislatively mandated licensure by state and federal agencies as well as professional self-regulation through specialty board certification. While this scholarship has been valuable, scant attention has been given to the history of women in medical professional regulation. When did women first become involved in medical professional regulation? Who were those women, and what were their motivations for this work? What was the nature of their engagement? These are some of the questions that led to the founding of the Women in Professional Regulation Project (WPRP), with the goals of documenting the history of women in professional regulation and stimulating others’ interest in this work.

The history that can be documented through exploration of these questions has intrinsic value, but it also provides valuable context for issues affecting the profession and provision of healthcare today. Given the importance of medical regulation to general issues in medicine (eg, access to high-quality care) and issues specific to women’s health (eg, reproductive health choices), it is important to understand the impact of women’s engagement in regulatory bodies. Has the presence of women changed the conversations and decisions of regulatory organizations? Does the composition of medical regulatory boards influence healthcare and public health?

Our understanding of history is shaped by the sources of “evidence” available, the cultural milieu in which events occurred, and the perspectives of those describing such events. Written materials from a given time provide valuable information about people and events but do not always fully present the events or the people involved, particularly those with less power and influence. In such instances, different sources of information can add value. Photographs are one such source of information.

Our exploration of the history of women in professional regulation included review of photographs in the archives of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). The FSMB has consistently used formal publications for communications over more than 100 years since its founding.11  The focus, frequency, and names of these publications have changed over time (Figure 1), including quarterly and monthly resources that incorporated educational articles, legal notices, and notes about the business and social activities of the Federation and its component state medical boards (SMBs), as well as brief newsletters that provided updates on meetings, events, and appointments within the SMB and FSMB communities. In 1993, a shift in editorial direction resulted in the emergence of the Journal of Medical Regulation (JMR), a peer-reviewed, academic journal with articles on regulatory issues as a major focus. For the purpose of clarity, this article will reference: (1) the multipage formal FSMB publications issued regularly from 1913 to 1993 as the Bulletin; (2) the less formal, shorter publications released since 1984 as the Newsletter; and (3) the publications focused on peer-reviewed scholarly articles issued since 1993 as the Journal.

Figure 1

FSMB publication titles

Figure 1

FSMB publication titles

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The majority of photographs we examined were published in the Bulletin. The Newsletter, which began publication in 1984, had occasional photo-graphs early in its history and became the primary place for publication of photographs after 1993. The number of photographs published and where they were published were editorial decisions based in part on factors such as the cost of publishing photographs and the purpose of the publication.

We reviewed available copies of the FSMB Bulletin, Newsletter, and Journal from 1913-2015. In total, we reviewed 1681 photographs. Two raters independently classified each photograph according to pre-specified criteria that included number and apparent sex of persons pictured, type of photograph (eg, formal or candid), placement in the publication (eg, cover or body), and setting/context (eg, education, business, or social). For photographs of a single person, we also attempted to identify the specific activity in which the person was engaged and person’s organizational affiliation. Discussion with a third rater was used to resolve areas of disagreement.

Figure 2 shows the breakdown of photographic subjects (eg, sex and number of persons) by decade. While in some years there were no photos published in FSMB publications, all decades represented in our study included some photos. We divided the photographs into 3 time periods (One, Two and Three), defined primarily by the number of published photographs in each period. We reviewed the images for information about women’s engagement in medical regulation via SMB and FSMB activities, as well as for broader insights into women’s roles and work across our study period. In this paper, we focus on themes that emerged in our review.

Figure 2

Numbers of persons and sex in photographs by decade (n=1681)

Figure 2

Numbers of persons and sex in photographs by decade (n=1681)

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There were 140 total photographs published in the 46 years of Period One (1913-1959); only 16 of those photographs included women. These images tell us little about women’s role in the system of professional regulation. However, they do provide interesting insights into how the Bulletin was used during its first decades and how women were depicted during that time.

In the early years of the Bulletin, its pages were often used to educate the medical regulatory community about charlatans, bogus cures, and medical misbehavior. For example, Charles Pinkham, a member of the California SMB and an investigator for the American Medical Association, authored articles on the falsification of licenses, medical charlatans, and bogus remedies.12,13  Instructive photographs sometimes accompanied these articles. One article about fraudulent licenses included photographs of Dr. Alma Pennington and 2 imposters, who were using illegally obtained medical licenses in her name. Figure 3 shows three photographs that include the real Dr. Penning-ton flanked by the two imposters. Now recognized as problematic, eugenics was a common theme in the US during the early 20th century and may have contributed to the caption of Dr. Pennington’s photograph: “Character shows in the face and signature of the true Alma Stevens Pennington.”14 

Figure 3

The real Dr. Pennington and two imposters

Figure 3

The real Dr. Pennington and two imposters

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Law enforcement agencies also used the Bulletin in its early years to share information about alleged criminals with medical conditions that might lead them to seek care from a physician. Women as well as men were included in these articles, which are reminiscent of “wanted” posters. Figure 4 shows Tamara Tucker, who was wanted for interstate transportation of stolen property and violation of probation. The text went on to note her history of tuberculosis.

Figure 4

Tamara Tucker

“Distaff,” a term used to describe traditional women’s work, is a theme we noted in many photographs of women throughout this collection. For much of the early 20th century, the Bulletin’s images showed women in jobs considered to be “appropriate” for their gender. In Period One, for example, photographs accompanying a 1941 article on internship training included women secretaries, nurses, and librarians—culturally accepted work for women at the time—while the photographs depicted only men as attending physicians and interns (Figure 5).

Figure 5

Photographs from a 1941 article on internship training

Figure 5

Photographs from a 1941 article on internship training

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The most common distaff role during this era was that of wife. In the late 1950s, we began to see occasional photographs of women identified as spouses of men involved with SMBs and the FSMB. These women were typically pictured in social situations, such as the 2 women seated at the table in the foreground of Figure 6.

Figure 6

Photograph depicting wives in a social situation

Figure 6

Photograph depicting wives in a social situation

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Another common distaff role was that of secretarial support for a male leader. Women played important support roles in the early organization of the state boards and the FSMB. These women were typically employed as secretaries for physicians who volunteered service to an SMB or the FSMB, or they were employed as support staff for one of these organizations. For example, women appeared in medical board support roles in the group pictures of the 1957 Oklahoma SMB and the 1959 New Jersey SMB (Figures 7a and 7b).

Figure 7a

1957 Oklahoma SMB

Figure 7a

1957 Oklahoma SMB

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Figure 7b

1959 New Jersey SMB

Figure 7b

1959 New Jersey SMB

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Period Two, encompassing 29 years, extended from 1960 to 1989 and included the greatest number (1292) of published photographs. The photographs from this period revealed a vibrant community with abundant educational, business, and social activities across the FSMB and the SMBs, and substantial engagement with other medical organizations. Most photographs only included men, but 163 (13%) included at least 1 woman.

During Period Two, women continued to be portrayed in distaff roles. One common distaff role involves supporting the careers and aspirations of husbands, while another involves volunteer service. We saw examples of both in the photographs. Wives frequently appeared in photographs of social events (Figure 8). For example, a table of women at an FSMB lunch was captioned “the distaff side” (Figure 8, center). In keeping with the conventions of the time, captions typically identified wives using their husbands’ names (eg, Mrs. Rhett McMahon in Figure 8, center). Further review clarified that some of these women, particularly wives of the FSMB senior executives and the FSMB board president, held important unpaid roles in planning and hosting organizational activities. (See, eg, Mrs. Godinez, third from right, Figure 8, left)

Figure 8

Photographs of women portrayed in distaff roles

Figure 8

Photographs of women portrayed in distaff roles

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Although these roles were unpaid, the photographs occasionally demonstrated recognition of the contributions these women made. For example, the traditional annual formal photograph of the FSMB president published on the journal cover was replaced by a photograph of the president and his wife (Figure 8, right). A picture of another president’s wife accompanied the transcript of her invited presentation about her experience with the FSMB.15 

Photographs during this period further clarified and underscored ongoing contributions made by women staff members, including occasional photographs of women staff members assisting in meeting registration and other work. Other photographs documented retirement events recognizing decades of service by women to either the FSMB or an SMB. The 3 women pictured in Figure 9 contributed 75 years of total service to the mission of professional regulation before their retirements in the 1960s-80s. Among them is Mable Fisher (Figure 9, right), who was described as the “cornerstone” of the FSMB.16 

Figure 9

Photos of three women who contributed 75 years of total service in professional regulation

Figure 9

Photos of three women who contributed 75 years of total service in professional regulation

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David Johnson’s work demonstrates that a few women were involved in SMB governance as early as 1899, when Dr. Adele Hutchinson held an appointment on the Minnesota SMB.17  However, as noted, the photographic evidence suggests there were few roles for women in the FSMB and SMBs until the latter part of Period Two. Photographs from this period show the gradual emergence of women participating in the FSMB’s work as meeting speakers, educators, and article authors—signifying an evolution of women’s roles beyond distaff. Interestingly, most women depicted in such contexts came from organizations outside the SMBs and the FSMB. Women from organizations like the AMA, the NBME, and academic institutions were prominent.

Perhaps led by the example of these other organizations, women from the FSMB and SMBs gradually began to appear as meeting participants and article authors. They also began to emerge in executive roles. Kate Hill, an NBME employee recruited to the executive staff at FSMB, and Dorothy Faircloth, executive director of the Florida SMB, are examples of women who became heavily involved in FSMB activities in the mid-1980s (Figure 10).

Figure 10

Examples of women with executive roles

Figure 10

Examples of women with executive roles

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For most of this period, photographs confirm that women were not involved in FSMB governance. Occasional exceptions included Dr. Dorothy Bernstein, a Minnesota SMB member, who was appointed FSMB treasurer to fill an unexpired term (Figure 11a). In 1979, the FSMB Board introduced a position for a representative of the SMB executive directors, a position occasionally filled by women such as Angelina Hubert in 1983 (Figure 11b).18 

Figure 11a

Dr. Dorothy Bernstein

Figure 11a

Dr. Dorothy Bernstein

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Figure 11b

1983 FSMB Directors, including SMB representative A. Hubert

Figure 11b

1983 FSMB Directors, including SMB representative A. Hubert

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The role of women in wider society underwent substantial change during Period Two. This social change was influenced by the second wave of feminism—shaped in the 1960s by Department of Labor Women’s Bureau chief Esther Peterson’s advocacy for equal pay, Betty Freidan’s publication of The Feminine Mystique, and the rise of the Civil Rights movement.19  Many sectors of society began to feel the ripple effects as people and institutions began actively questioning the limited social roles available to women and members of other under-represented groups.

Our review of FSMB meeting transcripts from these years suggests similar concerns were being discussed within the FSMB community. For example, a 1978 FSMB annual business meeting transcript noted that Ms. Margaret Castro of the California delegation expressed disappointment in the lack of women nominated to FSMB Board positions. Later in the same meeting, Castro articulated concern about the failure to pass a California SMB resolution to “actively support the appointment of women and minorities to member State Boards,” and she continued working, albeit unsuccessfully, to have the resolution passed.20 

Near the end of Period Two, photographs demonstrated a rapid shift from occasional depictions of a single woman to more consistent depictions of multiple women involved in FSMB executive and governance leadership roles. Leading the way, Dr. Susan Behrens was elected to the Federation Board in 1985 and then as president-elect in 1988; her rise to leadership was described as “stellar if not meteoric.”21  While she was the only woman in the 1985 formal board picture, the 1989-90 photograph included Dr. Behrens as FSMB Board President, 3 other women voting members, and an FSMB senior executive (Figure 12, left and right, respectively). These photos showed a critical mass of women emerging at the end of Period Two.

Figure 12

Photographs demonstrating a shift from depicting a single woman to depictions of multiple women involved in executive and governance leadership roles

Figure 12

Photographs demonstrating a shift from depicting a single woman to depictions of multiple women involved in executive and governance leadership roles

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Period Three covers the 25 years from 1990 through 2015. During this period, the Newsletter became the primary vehicle for publishing images of SMB executives as well as elected FSMB board members and officers, award winners, and annual meeting speakers. Women were a consistent presence in the photographs we reviewed. While Period Three included only 289 photographs, 107 (37%) of those photographs included women, highlighting their increased involvement.

Although women had an emerging and expanding presence in the latter years of Period Two, it was not until Period Three that the substantial involvement of women in executive roles at the SMBs and in FSMB executive and governance leadership gradually became the norm. Women from the FSMB and SMB communities and other organizations were frequent meeting speakers, authors, and award winners, while women regularly appeared as SMB leaders and in FSMB governance roles.

Photographs during Period Three also reflected a greater racial and ethnic diversity in the FSMB community. While Latinx/Hispanic and Asian men appeared in photographs during Period Two, we found no photographs of Black physicians. However, photographs of Black physicians, including women, were seen in Period Three. These physicians included Dr. Regina Benjamin of the Alabama SMB, who was elected to the FSMB Board in 2003 and served as chair of the board from 2008 to 2009; and Dr. Freda Bush, who served the Mississippi State Medical Board for a decade, was elected to the FSMB Board in 2003, and served as FSMB Chair from 2010-2011. A 2003 Newsline article highlighting newly elected leadership includes photographs of 5 women, including 2 Black physicians and 1 public member (Figure 13).

Figure 13

A 2003 Newsline article highlighting newly elected leadership

Figure 13

A 2003 Newsline article highlighting newly elected leadership

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While outside the parameters of our study, a photograph of the current FSMB Board of Directors (Figure 14) is relevant. The FSMB Board of today demonstrates substantial diversity among its governance members.

Figure 14

The 2023 FSMB Board of Directors

Figure 14

The 2023 FSMB Board of Directors

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It is important to document and understand the history of women in professional regulation for both the intrinsic value of scholarship and for understanding the current professional regulatory landscape. In an effort to advance this work, we reviewed over a century of photographs in FSMB publications.

Photographs are of growing importance in the documentation of the histories of women’s rights, education, and professions.22  The Schlesinger Library of the History of Women in America collections contain thousands of photographs depicting the histories of key women pioneers, including those in medicine such as Elizabeth Blackwell, Alice Hamilton, and Marjorie Braude.23  Iconic photographs including one depicting the first female doctors from India, Japan, and Syria at a women’s medical college in 1885 circulate on the internet even in recent times.24 

Within the context of women’s history, photographs have had the power to provoke emotions, promote discussion, stimulate action, and document change. One study demonstrating that geoscience textbooks lacked photographs of underrepresented minority and female scientists and students contributed to proactive strategies for increasing diversity in that profession.25  A follow-up study a decade later demonstrated increased, but stilll limited, pictorial representation of women and underrepresented minorities.26  Photographs also shed light on the history of women in spheres as diverse as sports, war, and film, among other areas.27,28,29  Gender bias in the presentation of women athletes and athletics has been the subject of multiple studies.30,31 Photographs can capture barriers and breakthroughs in history. In fact, single photographs have powerfully depicted both—such as Harry Trask’s 1967 photo of a Boston Marathon race official unsuccessfully attempting to push the first woman competitor, Katherine Switzer, off the course.32 

Many subjective decisions, both conscious and implicit, are made when photographs are composed, captured, and printed. Editorial considerations further influence which photographs are published, as well as their size, placement, and associated captioning, all providing insight into human behavior and societal norms. We found that photographs helped us understand the emergence of women in professional regulation in ways that we might not have otherwise gained from review of text resources alone.

Several themes emerge from this study of photographs published over a century. These themes are consistent with those seen in the history of women across many areas—sports, business, and the sciences. However, the photographic evidence we examined demonstrates how these themes emerged specifically within medical professional regulation.

The first theme is the prominence of distaff roles. Throughout much of the 20th century, social norms dictated relatively circumscribed roles for women, both in the workplace and in social spheres.33,34  In the workplace, teaching, secretarial work, and nursing were a few of the occupations considered acceptable for women. For women who aspired to the sciences, fields such as biology and home economics provided some opportunities, but other fields, including physics and engineering, remained relatively closed. Even in fields open to women, the work that women were allowed to do was often limited, inhibiting opportunities for advancement. For example, women made contributions such as sketching marine animals and cataloging astronomical plates but were not allowed to participate in expeditions at sea or to work in observatories at night. Further, pay scales for women were substantially lower than for men, and a surprising number of women were expected to do this work as volunteers.34 

Medicine was similarly closed to women for much of the 20th century.35  Young women interested in the healing professions were encouraged to pursue nursing—a more socially acceptable profession for women. In addition, for most of the century, there was a single medical college—the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania—dedicated solely to the education of women, and in 1970, it began to admit men; other medical schools admitted only men or had small quotas for women students. Even after completing medical school, women had limited opportunities for residency training, academic faculty positions, and hospital employment.1 

It was not until the Public Health Service Act of 1971 funded new medical schools, expanded class size in medical schools, and discouraged sex discrimination in medical school admissions that women had substantially more opportunities to study medicine.36 

We observed similar trajectories in the photographs from FSMB publications. Through the 1970s, women were predominantly seen in secretarial and support roles. At the state level, medical boards typically were supported by one or more assistants, some of whom were women. In the early years of the FSMB, when finances were routinely strained, physician founders often assigned Federation-related work to the secretaries employed by their medical practices or academic offices. These women and their work rarely appeared in the FSMB publications, particularly in the earlier years. It was not until Period Two that the importance of these women and their work was explicitly recognized in a series of articles and associated photographs highlighting their decades of contributions as they prepared to retire.

The most heralded distaff roles across time have been those of wife and mother. Social norms for much of the 20th century encouraged supporting the husband’s career and caring for the home and children. Working outside the home after marriage was not expected and, in fact, was discouraged through a variety of formal rules and informal conventions.37  These expectations ostensibly justified the limited opportunities for working women, who were expected to leave the workforce when they married or, at the very latest, became pregnant. These expectations also contributed to the social approbation encountered by both men and women when a wife continued to work.

These social norms, which were reinforced in the post-World War II social milieu and further encouraged by suburbanization and the increased use of time-saving tools in homemaking, led to a large cadre of non-employed women with underutilized talents and available time. These women often took on important volunteer roles in social organizations such as parent-teacher associations, scouting, and hospital auxiliaries.38 

The photographs we reviewed suggest wives also made such contributions to medical regulatory organizations, particularly the FSMB. While not formally included in the work of medical regulation, wives accompanied their husbands to FSMB meetings and took part in associated social events. Wives of FSMB executives and board members were often involved in organizing and hosting these social events, and they played important roles in outreach to other medical organizations and regulatory agencies.

Acknowledgment of these volunteers is even less prominent than the acknowledgment of women staff members. The wives of the FSMB President/Chair (the title changed over the period of this study) were frequently included in published photographs, with the wife usually depicted alongside her husband in a social setting. As previously mentioned, one such picture replaced the typical formal solo presidential photograph on the cover of the Bulletin.

A second theme we identified was the gradual appearance of women during Period Two as prominent participants in FSMB educational and business activities. We noted that many of the women participants were not physicians but rather had backgrounds outside of medicine. Core work for the SMBs and the FSMB during these years included preparing high-quality assessments, managing disciplinary complaints, communicating with the public, and developing systems to manage large quantities of data—skills that do not require training in medicine. Hence, many of the meeting speakers and article authors had backgrounds in education, public relations, assessment, and law. Some of these areas, particularly education and assessment, had been open to women for many years, allowing women to develop expertise and achieve positions of influence in these areas—making them important contributors to FSMB activities.

These women participants were more likely to come from organizations outside the boards. The AMA, the NBME, and academic institutions were among those organizations represented in photos of women with major speaking roles at FSMB events. This may be explained by the relatively small size of the SMB and FSMB communities, where the total pool of potential speakers and meeting participants was far smaller than those of larger organizations.

It was not until the 1970s that women were admitted to medical school in substantial numbers. Medical school is followed by years of postgraduate training, and typically a physician would practice for several years after completing that training before achieving the prominence and reputation necessary for nomination and appointment to an SMB. Further, participation at the FSMB level requires the SMB member to be sponsored by the state board, and even after SMB members become active at the FSMB level, they must achieve prominence before gaining sufficient stature to be nominated to the board.

Taken together, these factors limited the available pool of women considered for leadership appointments in the early decades of the second feminist era. In fact, it is somewhat surprising that women emerged as leaders so quickly after gaining wider access to the medical profession. Our ongoing oral history project suggests that major transitions of the medical boards in certain states and calls for diversity from SMB executives and the public may have accelerated the appointment of women physicians to SMBs.

It should be noted that this long trajectory and the necessity of sponsorship by state political leaders or state medical associations likely also contributed to the lack of racial diversity we noted in medical regulation for much of the 20th century.39  It was not until the 1960s that some state medical associations opened membership to Black physicians.

The photographs also helped clarify a third theme—that multiple factors were important to sustainable change in the FSMB communities. The business literature suggests intention and design for equity are necessary for true enculturation of diversity.40  Although the FSMB board included a woman in the late 1970s, her tenure was brief. However, over a relatively short period of time in the late 1980s, the engagement of women on the FSMB board increased markedly. In 1985, Susan Behrens was the only woman on the FSMB Board. By 1989, Behrens was board president and one of several women board members. Two of those women also went on to serve as president.

The photographs we reviewed reflect the rapid emergence of critical mass. The shift from one woman to multiple women on the board is striking and unlikely to have happened by chance. Text in the Bulletin and in other archival material suggests that FSMB leadership during these years worked intentionally to expand diversity on the board. Oral histories confirm the notion and suggest that work by executive leadership to identify talent and provide mentorship was especially valuable. Our oral history research underscores the particular importance of work by Executive Director Dr. Bryant Galusha, who encouraged women to become engaged and advocated for their inclusion, and ongoing mentorship from Mr. Dale Breaden, a vice president at the FSMB. Once on the board, women took up the mantle themselves, actively sponsoring and mentoring other women in their pursuit of leadership roles in the FSMB.

While our study of photos ended with publications from 2015, the composition of the current FSMB Board (Figure 14) is notable. Many organizations have recognized the importance of diversity in governance; the FSMB appears to have achieved it.41  We would like to posit 3 possible explanations.

First, purposeful sponsorship and mentorship have been identified as important to professional advancement across career types, as well as to the enhancement of diversity in leadership. 42  In oral histories, we have heard about the importance of senior leadership at the FSMB, as well as staff and professional members of the SMBs and the FSMB in supporting the candidacy and success of women in these ways.

Second, the FSMB is a federation, an organizational structure that, by definition, requires its leaders to navigate diverse perspectives and priorities. The 70 state and territorial medical boards supported by the FSMB bring diverse political, social, and medical characteristics to the work of the Federation. Managing the challenges of diversity and maximizing its benefits have been an inherent part of FSMB culture for more than a century. As gender and racial diversity increased, the federated structure likely helped foster lasting change.

Finally, a unique aspect of the FSMB is that it brings together oversight of 2 branches of medicine: allopathic and osteopathic medicine. Whatever differences may remain between these branches of medicine, there are common core values—including, notably, high-quality healthcare and protection of public welfare. Understanding what is shared across the broad community of SMBs may be an important reason the FSMB has been able to achieve such a high degree of diversity at the governance level.

These observations raise questions worthy of further exploration, and we encourage others to expand their scholarly focus to include the history of women in professional regulation. For example, why did change come more swiftly to some professional medical organizations than others? What role, if any, did these parallel advances play in stimulating change within the regulatory boards? What accounts for the continuing differences in the participation of women across certain medical specialties and activities?

Future work in this arena should also explore whether and how the increased representation of women on individual state boards influenced the policies and work done by the boards. This is not merely an academic question, since the engagement of women in professional regulation likely influenced the topics discussed, advice given, and oversight provided by the boards—including with respect to issues related to gender and women’s healthcare. This seems especially timely given today’s legal and political discussions on the role of SMBs in the oversight of the professional practice of women’s healthcare, including abortion services.

The photographs included in the FSMB’s publications offer useful and interesting glimpses of women’s historical roles and involvement in the medical regulatory profession. While women were sparsely represented across the entire century of photographs, their representation increased over time, as did the contexts in which they were depicted. These changes reflect an evolution in the roles of women from supportive but largely unrecognized to actively engaged and empowered in executive and governance leadership roles.

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Funding/support: None

Other disclosures: None

Author notes

Author contributions: Study concept and design, and data collection (SD, CC, LMN); Data interpretation (All); Manuscript preparation (All).