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Feminism - A Timeline in Achievement

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The Women's Movement: A Timeline from the 60's thru the 90's


The Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pills. Women now earn only 60 cents for every dollar earned by men, a decline since 1955. Women of color earn only 42 cents.



 Birth control pills are approved for marketing in the United States. Pres. Kennedy creates the President's Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt. Fifty parallel state commissions are eventually established.



The US Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, enacting the first federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination. Betty Friedan publishes "The Feminine Mystique," the seminal work of the women's liberation movement. The report issued by the President's Commission on the Status of Women documents discrimination against women in virtually every area of American life. It makes 24 specific recommendations, some surprisingly far-sighted (example: community property in marriages). 64,000 copies are sold in less than a year and talk of women's rights is again respectable.



Creating the Equal Employment Opportunity Countil, Congress passes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or gender. Patsy Mink (D-HI) is the first Asian-American female elected to the U.S. Congress.



 Griswold v Connecticut, Supreme Court overturns one of the last state laws prohibiting the prescription or use of contraceptives by married couples. Lyndon Johnson's Executive Order 11246 takes the 1964 Civil Rights Act a step further, requiring federal agencies and federal contractors to take "affirmative action" in overcoming employment discrimination. Weeks v. Southern Bell marks a major triumph in the fight against restrictive labor laws and company regulations on the hours and conditions of women's work, opening many previously male-only jobs to females.



 Friedan founds the National Organization for Women (NOW), which takes the leadership role in the women's liberation movement. Fifty state Commissions on the Status of Women convene in Washington, D.C., to report on their findings.


 Chicago Women's Liberation Group organizes, considered the first to use the term "liberation." New York Radical Women is founded. The following year they begin a process of sharing life stories, which becomes known as "consciousness raising." Groups immediately take root coast-to-coast. California becomes the first state to re-legalize abortion. Executive Order 11375 expands Executive Order 11246's non-discrimination measure to include women. Enforcement is not won until 1973, however.



 New York Radical Women garner media attention to the women's movement when they protest the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. The first national women's liberation conference is held in Chicago. The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) is founded. EEOC rules that unless employers can show a bona fide occupational qualification exists, sex-segregated help wanted newspaper ads are illegal. Federally Employed Woman is founded to end gender-based discrimination in civil service jobs. Within two decades, FEW has 200 chapters nationwide. The Voice of the Women's Liberation Movement appears in Chicago, edited by Jo Freeman and others. By 1971, over 100 women's movement newsletters and newspapers are being published across the country. National Welfare Rights organization if formed by activists such as Johnnie Tillmon and Etta Horm. They have 22,000 members by 1969, but are unable to survive as an organization past 1975. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) is first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress.



 Chicago women set up "Jane," an abortion referral service. During four years of existence, it provides more than 11,000 women with safe and affordable abortions. The Boston Women's Health Book Collective publishes the self-help manual Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women, incorporating medical information with personal experiences. Nearly 4 million copies sold as of 1997. California adopts the nation's first "no fault" divorce law, allowing couples to divorce by mutual consent. Other states follow rapidly. In Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive, the Supreme Court rules that women meeting the physical requirements can work in many jobs that had been for men only.



 Betty Friedan organizes first Women's Equality Day, August 26, to mark the 50th anniversary of women's right to vote. Sexual Politics, by Kate Millett, is published. The Comision Feminil Mexicana Nacion is organized to promote Latina rights. Founders include Graciella Olivares, Gracia Molina Pick, Francisco Flores, and Yolanda Nava. The North American Indian Women's Association is founded. San Diego State College in California establishes the first official, integrated women's studies program. Women's wages fall to 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. Although nonwhite women earn even less, the gap is closing between white women and women of color. The Equal Rights Amendment is reintroduced into Congress. Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church agree to ordain women; the Lutheran Church: Missouri Synod does not. Barbara Andrews becomes first woman ordained.



 The first battered women's shelter opens in the U.S., in Urbana, Illinois, founded by Cheryl Frank and Jacqueline Flenner. By 1979, more than 250 shelters are operating. New York Radical Feminists holds a series of speakouts and a conference on rape and women's treatment by the criminal justice system. Susan Brownmiller's book, Against Our Will, is one result. Another: the establishment of rape crisis centers across the country. For the first time in its 130 yrs, attorney Ruth Bader Ginsburg successfully uses the Fourteenth Amendment to overturn a sex-biased law in the Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed. Ms. magazine first appears as an insert in New York magazine. Gloria Steinem, Ms. co-founder and editor, becomes a leading journalist and media personality for the Second Wave. The non-partisan National Women's Political Caucus is founded to encourage women to run for public office.



 The ERA finally passes in the US Senate, due in large part to the lobbying power of NOW. By the end of the year, however, only 22 of the 38 required states ratify it. The first emergency rape crisis hotline opens in Washington, D.C. By 1976 400 independent rape crisis centers operate nationwide offering counseling, self-defense classes, and support groups. Title IX of the Education Amendments requires that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." In Eisenstadt v. Baird the Supreme Court rules that the right to privacy encompasses an unmarried person's right to use contraceptives. Congress extends the Equal Pay Act to include executives, administrative and professional personnel. Congress passes the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, giving the EEOC power to take legal action to enforce its rulings. Ms. magazine begins regular publication, reaching a circulation of 350,000 within a year. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) becomes first Black woman elected to Congress from a Southern state. Sally Priesand becomes first U.S. woman ordained as a rabbi in Reform Judaism.



 The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade legalizes abortion in America. Billie Jean King scores an enormous victory for female athletes when she beats Bobby Riggs in "The Battle of the Sexes," a televised tennis tournament watched by nearly 48,000,000 people. The National Black Feminist Organization is established. 9to5: National Association of Working Women, is founded by Karen Nussbaum in Boston. Nussbaum later becomes Director of the Women's Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor. The Civil Service Commission eliminates height and weight requirements that have discriminated against women applying for police, park service, and fire fighting jobs. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance issues guidelines prohibiting sex discrimination in employment by any federal contractor and requiring affirmative action to correct existing imbalances. The U.S. military is integrated when the women-only branches are eliminated. In a suit brought by NOW, Pittsburgh Press v Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, the Supreme Court affirms the EEOC ruling against sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers. This opens the way for women to apply for jobs previously limited to men and offering better pay and advancement opportunities.



 Alliance of Displaced Homemakers is founded by Tish Sommers and Laurie Shields to address issues of divorced and widowed homemakers seeking employment. Little League agrees to include girls "in deference to a change in social climate," but creates a softball branch specifically for girls to draw them from baseball. MANA, the Mexican-American Women's National Association, organizes as feminist activist organization. By 1990, MANA chapters operate 16 states with members in 36. Hundreds of colleges are offering women's studies courses; there are over 80 full programs in place. Additionally, 230 women's centers on college campuses provide support services for female students. The Women's Educational Equity Act, drafted by Arlene Horowitz and introduced by Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI), funds the development of nonsexist teaching materials and model programs that encourage full educational opportunities for females. The Coalition for Labor Union Women is founded, uniting blue-collar women across occupational lines. Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur determines it is illegal to force pregnant women to take maternity leave on the assumption they are incapable of working in their physical condition. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act forbids sex discrimination in all consumer credit practices; extended to commercial credit in 1988. Ella Grasso becomes the first woman to win election as governor in her own right, in Connecticut. The number of women in public office begins to rise. Women now hold 8% of state legislative seats and 16 seats in Congress. By 1986: 14.8% of legislative seats, and 24 seats in Congress. In 1997: 21% of legislative seats, 62 seats in Congress. Through a series of Mujeres Pro-Raza Unida conferences, Texas Chicanas have organized a statewide network to promote Chicana awareness, political campaign strategies and organizing techniques.



 Taylor v. Louisiana denied states the right to exclude women from juries.



Dr. Benjamin Spock eliminates sex-bias in his revised Baby and Child Care. Organization of Pan Asian American Women is founded to impact public policy. The United Nations "Decade for Women" begins. Title IX goes into effect (see 1972 entry). Opening the way for women's increased participation in athletics programs and professional schools, enrollments leap in both categories. Title IX withstands repeated court challenges over time (see 1997 entry). Alliance for Displaced Homemakers founded by Tish Sommers and Laurie Shields, moving the issues of divorced and widowed homemakers seeking employment into the public discussion. U.S. military academies open admissions to females. Working Woman: The National Association for Office Workers is formed. In four years it has over 10,000 members. In a groundbreaking law, marital rape becomes a crime in Nebraska. Women Against Violence Against Women, stages the first major demonstration against pornography, in Los Angeles. A New York Times survey shows that women's enrollment in theological seminaries has risen from 3% to 35% of all students within the previous decade. The Episcopal Church votes to allow the ordination of women as bishops and priests, and recognizes the earlier "irregular" ordination of Jacqueline Means and ten other women.



The First National Women's Conference is held in Houston, Texas, chaired by Bella Abzug. 130,000 women attended preparatory meetings held in every state to draft recommendations for a national Plan of Action and to elect 2,000 delegates to the conference - the most diverse group ever elected in the U.S. The delegates publish a 25-point Plan of Action. The National Women's Studies Association is formed to promote the field's development. By 1978 there are over 15,000 courses and more than 275 programs; by 1992 there are 670 programs. Congress passes the Hyde Amendment, eliminating federal funding for poor women's abortions. By 1995, only thirteen states still provide public funding for abortions. Between 1969 and 1977, the Supreme Court issues full opinions on 21 women's rights cases. Michelle Barnes wins the first sexual harassment suit, before the US. Court of Appeals for the Disrict of Columbia. The last state (Indiana) ratifies the ERA, but three more are needed.



The Pregnancy Discrimination Act becomes law. Defining pregnancy as a "disability," Congress requires employers to extend those benefits offered to "other" disabled employees. 100,000 march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in Washington, D.C. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence forms bringing shelters and other groups together to publicize the issue. The Older Women's League is founded to address age-and-gender discrimination issues including health insurance and retirement benefits. For the first time in history, more women than men enter college. OFCC establishes quotas for federally funded construction projects: 6.9% women on work sites and 20-25% women in apprentiship programs. Still, by 1983 women were only 2% of the construction labor force. Publicity about the Oregon v. Rideout decision leads many other states to also allow prosecution for marital and cohabitation rape. The first national feminist conference on pornography is held in San Francisco, with a large "Take Back the Night" march. Soon thousands of women across the country stage similar marches.



Owanah Anderson founds and directs the Ohoyo Resource Center to advance the status of American Indian/Alaska Native females. The National Association for Black Women Entrepreneurs is formed by Marilyn French-Hubbard to offer advice, training, and networking for black businesswomen. Rape crisis centers in 20 states join forces in the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Judy Chicago's art exhibit honoring notable women in history, "The Dinner Party," opens in San Francisco with record-setting attendance and vitriolic reviews.



Jewell Jackson-McCabe founds the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. New EEOC guidelines list sexual harassment as a form of prohibited sexual discrimination. The "gender gap" first shows up at the election polls as women report different political priorities than men. The Reverend Marjorie S. Matthew is elected as a bishop of the United Methodist Church, becoming the nation's first woman to sit on the governing body of a major religious denomination.



At the request of women's organizations, President Carter proclaims the first "National Women's History Week," incorporating March 8, International Women's Day. The National Black Women's Health Project founded to establish community-based self-help groups. (Mary would delete this). In San Jose, California, a strike of city workers wins salaries based on comparable worth for nearly 1500 women, a national first. Kirchberg v. Feenstra overturns state laws designating a husband "head and master," having unilateral control of property owned jointly with his wife. Sandra Day O'Connor is the first woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1993, she is joined by Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Sharon Parker and Veronica Collazo found the National Institute for Women of Color. First project: replacing phrase "minority women" with "women of color" in common usage.



After a decade of fighting for ratification, the ERA fails. In the end, only 35 of the 38 required states ratify the ammendment. Over 900 women hold positions as state legislators, compared with 344 a decade earlier.



Sex discrimination in the admission policies of organizations such as the Jaycees is forbidden by the Supreme Court in Roberts v. United States Jaycees, opening many previously all-male organizations to females. EMILY's List (Early Money is Like Yeast: It Makes the Dough Rise) is founded to raise funds for feminist candidates Geraldine Ferraro is the first female vice-presidential candidate of a major political party (Democratic Party). The non-partisan National Political Congress of Black Women is founded by Shirley Chisholm to address women's rights issues and encourage participation in the electoral process at every level.



Tracey Thurman of Connecticut is first woman to win a civil suit as a battered wife. Wilma Mankiller becomes first woman installed as principal chief of a major Native American tribe, the Cherokee in Oklahoma.



The Supreme Court rules that sexual harrassment in the workplace is tantamount to sexual discrimination and, thus, illegal. The New York Times is the last among major dailies to allow use of "Ms." as a title. Amy Eilberg is the first woman ordained as a rabbi by the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly. About 25% of scientists are now female, but they are still less likely than men to be full professors or on a tenure track in teaching. Only 3.5% of the National Academy of Sciences members are female (51 members); since the academy's 1863 founding, only 60 women have been elected.



Responding to the National Women's History Project, the U.S. Congress declares March to be National Women's History Month. The Feminist Majority Foundation is founded by Ellie Smeal to help female candidates win public offices.



Rev. Barbara Harris, an African-American, becomes the first female bishop of the Episcopal Church.



300,000 marchers demonstrate for women's reproductive rights in Washington, D.C. In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the Supreme Court affirms the right of states to deny public funding for abortions and to prohibit public hospitals from performing abortions.



Women in their twenties, calling themselves "the third wave," form myriad on- and off-campus organizations to tackle their generation's particular concerns and vulnerabilities. LaDonna Harris, Native American activist, estimates that women make up one-quarter of most tribal councils, and fill half the seats on many. The number of Black women in elective office has increased from 131 in 1970 to 1,950 in 1990.



In Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, by Susan Faludi documents the attacks on women's progress during the last decade, "set off not by women's achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. "



Women are now paid 71 cents for every dollar paid to men. The range is from 64 cents for working-class women to 77cents for professional women with doctorates. Black women earned 65 cents, Latinas 54 cents. Women owned business employ more workers in the United States than the Fortune 500 companies do worldwide. "The Year of the Woman." A record number of women run for public office, and win. Twenty-four are newly-elected to the House of Representatives (total: and six to the Senate. They include: the first Mexican-American woman and first Puerto Rican woman in the House, Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY); the first black woman Senator, Carole Moseley Braun, D-IL; and both Senators for California, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, who are both Democrats. Women win all five of the gold medals won by Americans during the Winter Olympics.



A family and medical leave bill--providing time off for pregnancy or family illness--is signed into law by President Clinton; a similar bill had been twice vetoed by former President Bush. Take Our Daughters to Work Day debuts, designed to build girls self-esteem and open their eyes to a variety of career possibilities for women. Fifty states have revised their laws so that, depending on the degree of additional violence used, husbancs can be prosecuted for sexually assaulting their wives. With the increased number of female members, the 103rd Congress passes into law thirty bills on women's issues during its first year, 33 during its second. The previous record for any year: five. Women hold a record number of positions in state as well as federal government. Are 20.4% of state legislators; 3 governors, 11 lieutenant governors, 8 attorneys general, 13 secretaries of state, 19 state treasurers. 6 women in the Senate, 48 in the House of Representatives.



As part of the Anticrime Bill, the Violence Against Women Act is passed by Congress. Every couple applying for a marriage license in California is given information about domestic violence. Congress adopts the Gender Equity in Eduation Act to train teachers, promote math and science learning by girls, counsel pregnant teens, and prevent sexual harassment.



U.S. women's spectacular success in the Summer Olympics (19 gold medals, 10 silver, 9 bronze) is the result of large numbers of females active in sports since the passage of Title IX. United States v. Virginia affirmes that the male-only admissions policy of the state-supported Virginia Military Institute violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Total number of female bishops, priests, ministers, and rabbis: Baptist: 2,313 ministers; Episcopal: 6 bishops, 1,452 priests; Evangelical Lutheran: 1,838 pastors; Judaic, Reform: 259 rabbis; Judaic, conservative: 72 rabbis; Judaic, Orthodox: 0 rabbis; Latter-day Saints: 0 priests; Methodists: 10 bishops, 4,995 ministers; Presbyterian: 3,026 ministers; Roman Catholic: 0 priests; Seventy-day Adventist: 0 priests; Unitarian Universalist Association: 4,443 ministers; United Church of Christ (Congregationalist): 2,080 ministers.



Elaborating on Title IX, the Supreme Court rules that college athletics programs must actively involve roughly equal numbers of men and women to qualify for federal support


The timeline in full from 1652 - 1997 can be found here.