Written by: Lona Cook DC with interviews with Sharon Gorman DC, MJ Gonstead DC, and Mary Flannery DC

Insight into the feminine side of ADIO

Okay, so let’s bring up a conversation on gender. After discussing our position in the profession with many other female chiros; it seems clear there has never been a better time to be a female in chiropractic!

Currently in our profession there are totally amazing opportunities for women to take their careers and passions to whatever levels they see possible. Our practice dreams and the mark we are able to make on the world are much the same as our male counterparts in our world of TIC. A few on fire women chiropractors graciously took their time to give insights on several questions and clear the air on some gender topics!

Dr. Sharon GormanPowerhouse Female Chiropractor #1: Dr. Sharon Gorman

President of LCW (League of Chiropractic Women) and warrior for Chiropractic. Years in practice: 29.

Q: What is the biggest asset of being a woman in TIC?

Sharon: Well, for me in the beginning, just being a woman was a huge asset. I would put my picture on my card and advertising because I was the only woman chiropractor in my area. It seemed a lot of people wanted a woman doctor and were more comfortable with their family being under care with a female. Our “motherly” instinct and nurturing side gives us a great advantage when connecting with practice members and showing empathy. I think this is still true.

Q: Since you are very successful in chiropractic and business, any pointers for other women?

Sharon: I think of women chiropractors as on an equal playing field. There are some old stereotypes that although frustrating, aren’t true. We used to be judged only from the male model of practice (high volume, high profit practice = the only version of success). I can tell you that is changing; it’s about creating a life for yourself and sharing your gifts in whatever style of practice works for you. This is part of why I love the LCW so much.

As far as running a practice with women; both women DC’s and women CA’s, I love the connection that develops between women serving in a practice. I have almost always hired women associates and women CA’s because I love working with women.

Q: How has having children and raising a family impacted your practice?

Sharon: Being full time in practice with multiple practices and a full time mom has presented internal struggles at times, but I also think you grow and learn from these struggles and it makes you better at both. And I will tell you what, I can’t think of a better way to be a role model for my daughters. They see how passionate I am about chiropractic and my “job” and how much impact a woman can make. It’s one of the biggest gifts chiropractic has given me.

Dr. MJ GonsteadPowerhouse Female Chiropractor #2: Dr. M.J. Gonstead

Years in practice: 29 years! And yes, she is related to Clarence.

Q:What do you see as the biggest change for female Chiropractors since you started practice?

MJ:  The profession has changed a lot. When I started, I was the only woman in practice in the area that wasn’t married to another Chiropractor. I felt at times that I needed to work twice as hard to earn the same respect as my male counterparts. But this was also a major motivating factor in my early years. This has changed dramatically, we have emerged from that “Victorian attitude” making our profession stronger. 

Q: What do you find is one of the biggest assets women have in the profession?

MJ:   Compared to our male counterparts, I believe we are generally more emotional and perhaps a bit less analytical.  This can serve us well when we are looking at a patient as a whole, as we can be aware of the situations in their lives that can be a major factor in their health and physical/emotional wellbeing. Call it what you may, but I feel it is our inherent maternal instinct.

Q: How has having children and raising a family impacted your practice?

MJ: It has been a blessing to raise my family in a chiropractic world. It challenges your beliefs to put them to the test, living vitalisitically with your family and all that’s included: no vaccines etc. But makes you that much stronger in your ability to serve your patients as you walk the walk and then talk the talk.

Dr. Mary FlanneryPowerhouse Female Chiropractor #3: Dr. Mary Flannery

Dean of enrollment at LIFE West (note: she has worked at Palmer and LIFE in these positions). Years working in the profession: 20

Q: What is the biggest asset of being a woman in TIC?

Mary: Gender non-specific qualities really, to me they are individual qualities-human beings qualities. Probably the biggest asset I see is utilizing your intuition. Men and women both have that opportunity.

Q: What do you feel is the biggest difference from our male counterparts?

Mary: Well, when women choose to have a family, it is significantly harder to be in full time practice and be a vitalistic parent. From breast-feeding, to the need for the child to be near the mom for much of the day; it takes it toll.  So now you are looking at two core values for most of us: Chiropractic and Vitalism and a decision that needs to be made.   At that moment with a newborn or young child it is hard to be 100% at both.

For many women, they tend to step back from practice to some degree at these point. I know at this time there maybe a sense of loss to their chiropractic qualities. Though the funny thing is they are still every bit as much a chiropractor.  

Then when its time to transition back into “chiro role” its hard to know when, how, and there can be a loss of esteem because they can feel dis-empowered from the break from practice. Most of is in our heads that because I took a break I am less successful or less of a chiropractor.

I myself, haven’t been in active practice for 9 years, and there are times where I have to check myself because people questions me since I no longer have a traditional role.

Q: With more women graduating, what do you feel this could mean for the profession?

Mary: I think we have been gradually ramping up, so there is not a huge dramatic change. However, the potential dramatic shift comes from women recognizing that we have exceptionally powerful roles in TIC (though they may look different than the traditional male role). As we step into our own power with both feet that’s where the shift comes from. Perhaps it’s more of a generational shift than a gender shift.

Awesome input from amazing women DC’s! So its apparent more women then ever are involved in TIC and spreading the vision in our communities; most of us have all run into a few repetitive situations. Let’s set the record straight on a few “favorite” experiences that women Chiropractors face…


Annoying situation #1

We are at a chiropractic seminar or gathering, standing next to a man. Someone comes up and introduces himself to us both. Many times we are assumed to be “the wife,” not the chiropractor.   Lesson learned: Don’t Assume!

Annoying situation #2

Male new patient sizes you up before getting on the table. Then after you give him a rocking adjustment says, “Whoa, I didn’t think you looked like you could do that.”

Lesson Learned: Yeah, buddy! Women chiros can deliver amazing adjustments even with a fraction of the body size. Remember F=MxA -think speedy.

Annoying situation #3

Typical comment, “It’s amazing what women chiro’s can do in practice, having families and all.” Yes, it is. But men also have families and though they don’t have to breast feed, that doesn’t mean we can’t give both parties some credit for being awesome in practice and a family focused person.

Plus not all women put their role of family before chiropractic. So to each their own when it comes to values. Let’s be honest gender has nothing to do with our vision for chiropracTIC in the world.

Lesson Learned: Chiropractic is chiropractic whether you have girl parts or boy parts and whether you have a family or not.

All in all, we have amazing men and women uplifting this profession with the vision of expansion and truth driving TIC momentum out into the world. Like BJ said, “I love you because you love what I love.” We can all play equally together and make up a tapestry where our commonality binds us. No matter what, we need all the chiropractic warriors out there, recruiting more brothers and sisters and expanding a vision.


c-lonacook-1Dr. Lona Cook grew up in Chippewa Falls and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as Northwestern Health Sciences University for her Doctorate of Chiropractic.  She has a strong passion to communicate with people the benefits of proactive care and helping families take active roles in their own health goals. Dr. Cook is also on the state association board and speaks nationally many weekends of the year spreading the message of better living through chiropractic care.
Dr. Lona and husband, Kyle, live in the St. Croix Valley and love being close to family and the beautiful river valley.