Activist, Researcher and Educator: Karen M. Hicks

By OBOS — April 19, 2010

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011

Entrant: Joan Z. Spade, Ph.D.

Nominee: Karen M. Hicks, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Lehigh University and Lafayette College

I am nominating Dr. Karen Hicks for her on-going dedication to improving women’s health and well-being, particularly as it relates to sexuality and reproductive health.

Dr. Hicks has been a sexuality educator for more than 20 years. She teaches Human Sexuality and Women’s Reproductive Health as an adjunct professor at both Lehigh University and Lehigh University.  In 1994,  Dr. Hicks authored one book on women’s health, “Surviving the Dalkon Shield IUD: Women v. the Pharmaceutical Industry,” and edited another, “Misdiagnosis: Woman as Disease.”

She started a kitchen table action grassroots action group of survivors of the Dalkon Shield IUD, which grew to 15 chapters across the United States and became the chief claimant’s voice in the courtroom during the A. H. Robbins bankruptcy case.  More than 200,000 women ultimately received modest settlements from the Dalkon Shield Trust Fund.

In 2004, she published an online Medscape CME course titled “Women’s Sexual Problems — A Guide to Integrating the New View Approach.” She also developed a successful online course titled “Ministry, Sexuality and Congregations” for the Center for Sexuality and Religion. She is currently a member of the New View Campaign, which advocates against the medicalization of women’s sexuality. She is also a member of the consortium on sexuality and aging.

Dr. Hicks is an activist, researcher and educator whose work has impacted the health and well-being of many women.  Her work on the Dalkon Shield IUD took her from the kitchen table to courtrooms and Congress. In addition to the classrooms and online courses noted above, she has also facilitated workshops on many topics related to women’s sexual well-being, including body image, teenage pregnancy prevention, menopause, and sexuality in aging and aged populations.  I believe she deserves to be called a “Women’s Health Hero.”

17 responses to “Activist, Researcher and Educator: Karen M. Hicks”

  1. The field of sexual health and sexuality education is lucky to have the energy, voice and creativity of Karen Hicks. i can not recommend her highly enough for the honor of being named a Women’s Health hero.

  2. Dr. Hicks and I have collaborated on several projects and have worked together within several organizations. She is a true example of commitment to women’s health and healthy lifespan sexuality for people of all orientations and identities.

  3. As Karen’s protégé, she is certainly one of the best mentors a sexuality educator, community activist and member could ever ask for! 🙂 She recognizes through voice and action the intimate connection between community involvement and personal interactions with national/world change.

  4. Karen has taught many of my students. They just rave about her. She has opened their eyes and given them the tools to work for change.

  5. Congrats on your nomination Karen. You have been a wonderful advocate for women for many years. Courageous , committed & truly passionate about educating women. Thank you for your fresh, open & honest approach when teaching.

  6. I had the pleasure of conversation with Karen in the home of a mutual friend. She is a beautiful example of how to turn tragic events into the better good for all. I am grateful for her attention to the details of her life as it has laid an accessabe path for all women looking for information, education and support.

  7. I wholeheartedly recommend Karen Hicks for this honor for her persevering commitment to women’s issues as well as other issues of concern to all.


  9. Didn’t know anything about Ms Hicks book or activism. Wish I would have, I nearly died from the IUD and had a total hysterectomy when I was 19.
    Thank you for your voice, one I never had.

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