BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

BPW Foundation: A Proud History of Supporting Working Women

Posted by sherrysaunders on March 10, 2011

During Women’s History Month it is only fitting that we remember the founding of  Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, the first foundation whose mission was to study, support and advocate for working women.  Check back later in the month for more BPW Foundation history tidbits.

Marguerite Rawalt signs the incorporation documents for BPW Foundation

The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation was organized in February 1956 by the BPW/USA (National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs)  and was hailed as the first tax exempt Foundation and research center devoted exclusively to the interests and advancement of working women.

The Lena Lake Forrest Fellowship Fund of the National Federation, whose purposes were to “promote research into problems which are important to the business and professional woman and to encourage graduate study in fields of work in which the Federation would like to enlarge the activities of women,” was turned over to BPW Foundation to administration.

The first BPW Foundation grant was awarded to Dr. Margaret Cussler for research on her book, The Woman Executive.

Over the years, BPW Foundation has focused on eliminating gender bias and ensuring fair pay.  But BPW Foundation’s interests were wide-ranging as this sampling of articles and papers published in  1956 illustrate. 

While we now are all attuned to advocating for STEM and women in non-traditional careers, BPW Foundation was talking about and educating on those issues in its very first year, 55 years ago.

And the second year was just as busy and groundbreaking.  BPW Foundation conducted the survey on working women, WomanPower Survey.  They also were one of the first to look at issues surrounding older women in the workforce in Too Old for a Job? Other topics targeted in 1957 included:

The members and supporters of BPW Foundation have a long and proud history of leading the way for creating successful workplaces that “work” for both women and employers.

For more on the history of BPW Foundation, check our History Project on the BPW Foundation website.

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