Louise Vetter (1937-2003)

by Sally A. Diegelman and Nathan M. Diegelman, The University of Akron*

Biography of Louise Vetter

In celebration of the APA centennial in 1992, Louise Vetter, Ph.D., co-chaired the Women’s Heritage Exhibit of Division 35.  The purpose of the exhibit was to celebrate and highlight the contributions of over 100 women to psychology at the APA Centennial.  Now, over 10 years later, it is time that we honor Louise Vetter for her own accomplishments and contributions to psychology, and to the lives of all she touched. 

Louise Bertha Caroline Vetter was born on November 26, 1937, on a large family farm in Iowa.  She was the second child of Louis and Alice Vetter.  Louise graduated from Calamus High School and then completed her undergraduate work at Iowa State University, earning a bachelor's degree in home economics education.  After receiving her M.S. in Counseling Psychology from Iowa State University, she went on to complete her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from The Ohio State University in 1968.  In 1966, during her graduate work, she began serving as a research associate with the National Center for Research in Vocational Education.  She continued to build her career there, finally retiring 30 years later as a Senior Research Specialist Emerita. 

Throughout her career, Vetter made significant contributions to improve vocational opportunities for girls and young women.  Her interests and values in this area are reflected in numerous research and scholarly publications, including her doctoral dissertation under the direction of Frank Fletcher entitled “A Factor Analytic Study of the Attitudes Toward Work of High School Senior Girls.”  Further work included numerous publications in books and journals on the applicability of career theories for women, gender equity, counselor bias towards working women, familial influences, gender equity and stereotyping, and other factors.   

One particularly notable aspect of Vetter’s work is that she focused her efforts to address issues of discrimination and effect positive social change.  In addition to working with women already in the workforce, Vetter addressed discriminatory attitudes in teachers, families, and others whose actions can significantly impact the early career decision-making of girls and young women.  With her colleagues, Vetter published a series of training manuals for use by state and local supervisors and teacher educators, to address issues of sex equity.  She also disseminated and applied her work by leading workshops, including bias awareness training to increase awareness of barriers to equal treatment in education and employment.  As a sign of her forward thinking, Vetter’s work was also on the forefront of incorporating issues of class and ethnicity.  Her research is commendable for examining the vocational lives of women, not only in the United States, but in many other countries as well.  Indeed, as part of her active service to The National Career Development Association, Louise made significant contributions to the series entitled “UNEVOC Studies in Technical and Vocational Education,” part of an international project to overview successful vocational guidance programs in other countries. 

In addition to her scholarly work, Vetter also provided service through numerous organizations.  She served as Historian for Omnicron Tau Theta, and as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for The National Career Development Association.  Vetter also worked in many capacities to positively impact the lives of women in the community, including serving as the President of Ohio Women, Inc. from 1983-1985.  Among her many accomplishments, Vetter was awarded the Outstanding Service Award from Omnicron Tau Theta, and received a life-time career award from the Ohio Women in Psychology.  Vetter was also honored with fellow status in APA’s Division 35  (Society for the Psychology of Women), Division 17 (Counseling Psychology), and the American Psychological Society. 

Louise Vetter was an outstanding friend and mentor outside of her professional life, and enjoyed sharing her hobbies with others.  She was an avid reader of mystery and science fiction, and enjoyed discussing plots, characters, and authors.  Subsequent to retirement, she wrote two original mystery novels along with friend and colleague Cheryl Meredith Lowry - “Showcase” and “Trunk Show,” published by Simon and Schuster in the early 1990s.  Consistent with the international interests evident in her scholarly work, Vetter enjoyed traveling around the world, including Hawaii, Micronesia, Mallorca, Easter Island, Grand Turk, England, Norway, Germany, and Russia, among other destinations.  Although some of her travels were for work, many were also for fun and "digging," as Vetter was very active in Earth Watch and enjoyed going on archaeological digs all over the world.  Her loved ones recalled that she always brought back pictures and souvenirs from her many adventures to share with them.

Vetter was not married and had no children, but was a godmother to two.  She developed stomach cancer in March of 2002.  After undergoing treatment, she fell ill again in November.  Before she passed away on January 14, 2003, she lived to see the Ohio State Buckeyes win the national championship.  Family members recall that this was her most important goal at the time.  In addition to nieces and nephews, she is survived by her brother, August, and her sister, Naomi Therres.  As a fitting tribute to her zest for life, Louise asked that in lieu of a memorial service, a party be held after her passing so that friends and family could celebrate her life and all that she was. 

*Originally published in The Feminist Psychologist, Newsletter of the Society for the Psychology of Women, Division 35 of the American Psychological Association, Volume 31(1), Winter, 2004, pp. 10, 13.  Appearing with permission of the authors.