Dr. Nancy McGlen's interest in politics seemed almost predestined. Her mother was an "FDR democrat," as McGlen describes her, espousing progressive views about the status of women. Her grandmother, "a phenomenal leader who was way ahead of her time," worked in the War Department and was appointed postmaster in the town of Hannibal, N.Y., by President Roosevelt. She's even a distant relative of Belva Lockwood, a one-time presidential candidate and tireless advocate of women's rights. "I've been blessed with great role models," she says.
McGlen has carried on this family tradition as a scholar and educator on women's issues. She is a prolific author and speaker, and she has been awarded numerous honors for her work in the field. Her most recent recognition came in March, when she was inducted into the WNY Women's Hall of Fame for her personal and professional efforts in advocating, inspiring and educating women.
McGlen's entrée into the field came in 1974, while she was an assistant professor in the department of political science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her chairperson suggested she teach a course on women and politics.
"There wasn't much out there in that field or on women in general," McGlen says. She began doing her own research, which led to the publication of her first book, "Women's Rights: The Struggle for Equality in the 19th and 20th Centuries." Since then, McGlen has co-authored an additional three books (one of which is in its fourth edition), authored or co-authored more than two dozen articles and chapters, presented at nearly 40 professional conferences, and spoken to community groups throughout Western New York. Her main focus has been on the discrimination of women, which was prompted by her discovery of the "stunning" disparities in opportunities, politics and careers between men and women.
"For many years I have been the only person in Western New York to speak about women's issues," she notes. "Most of my talks highlight the discrepancies and how women can work toward eliminating those discrepancies."
McGlen's involvement in women's issues is not limited to her professional activities. She is also actively involved in the community, serving as a member of the Niagara County Commission on the Status of Women and a board member and co-president of the YWCA of Niagara. She has been president of the Grand Island Business and Professional Women's Club and a member of the Committee for Women Run New York Celebration. She served as chair for the first and second Niagara County Institute for Public Leadership, a YWCA program to train women for political leadership. As the past co-chair of the Leadership Committee for the Niagara County Commission on the Status of Women, she was the co-author of the first report on the political status of women in Niagara County.
MMcGlen brings her passion for women's issues into her classroom as well. She helped to establish the Women's Studies Program at Niagara, which analyzes the historical, economic, political, social, and cultural experiences of women. She says she is fortunate to have the opportunity to educate students about the status of women, and to mentor both students and young faculty.
"Ultimately, it's what you do for others," McGlen says, "not what you do for yourself."
This philosophy is clearly a guiding principle for McGlen, who says she will continue working on projects that educate and train women to help eliminate some of the inequities that exist. "There are so many women, because of the fact they are women, who still stuffer in this society," she says." There's so much work to be done."