Dr. May Cohen Named as an Officer to the Order of Canada

Dr. May Cohen, past-president of the FMWC and longtime advocate of women physicians and women's health was named an Officer to the Order of Canada for her "exemplary leadership in the establishment and growth of the field of women's health in Canada".

"They desire a better country" - Motto, Order of Canada

Created in 1967, the Order of Canada is one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, and recognizes “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation”. There are three designations of the Order of Canada: Member, recognized at the local/regional level or for a special area of activity; an Officer is recognized for their national service or achievement; and a Companion is recognized for their work internationally.

Dr. Cohen was born in 1931 and raised in Montreal and Toronto before attending the University of Toronto Medical School when women made up less than 10% of the medical class. She graduated at the top of her class (1955). After a successful 20-year clinical practice in Toronto with her husband, Dr. Gerry Cohen, May and Gerry left Toronto in 1977 to join the newly formed Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University where Dr. Cohen rose to serve as associate dean, health services 1991-1996. Dr. Cohen co-founded the Women's Health Office, an academic resource centre dedicated to the promotion of women's health and women in health care, the first of its kind in Canada. Her insistence on incorporating women's health in the medical school curriculum led to the formation of the Women's Health Inter School Curriculum Committee. Dr. Cohen changed the landscape of women's health education in Canada. In 2016, Dr. Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in recognition of her influential work in women's health.

Dr. Cohen has broken down barriers for the women physicians who have followed her. In her clinical practice, as a researcher and as an academic leader, Dr. Cohen addressed issues such as gender equality within the medical profession, she has advocated for women's specific health needs and for a woman's autonomy over her own health decisions. She has inspired countless medical students over her years as an educator, and she continues to provide guidance and words of well-earned wisdom to colleagues, students and friends across the country.

The FMWC is proud to call Dr. Cohen a colleague, a past-president and a continuing supporter.

Listen here for a podcast with Women's Health Pioneer - Dr. May Cohen

A movie of Dr. Cohen's life and influence in women's health is due for release in 2018.


  • Medical Women of Canada Ortho Award for the Promotion of Women's Health,
  • Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Person's Case
  • Leadership Development Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges.
  • Canadian Medical Association Medal of Service
  • Lifetime membership in the Ontario Medical Association
  • Senior membership in the Canadian Medical Association
  • Hamilton Academy of Medicine Distinguished Service Award
  • Hamilton Woman of the Year Award
  • Hamilton Hall of Fame Inductee

Awards named in recognition of Dr. Cohen

  • FMWC May Cohen Award
  • Eli Lilly-May Cohen Chair in Women’s Health at McMaster
  • CMA-May Cohen Award for Women Mentors
  • AFMC-May Cohen Equity, Diversity, and Gender Award.

Canadian Medical Hall of Fame 2016 Laureate