This paper is concerned with the historical development of the Task Force on the Status of Women in Psychology (hereinafter called the women’s committee) within the American Psychological Association (APA). It posits three research questions:
(1) What occurred between the end of the 1960’s and the early 1970’s that caused the APA to establish the women’s committee?
(2) What kind of persons and organizations were involved?
(3) What were the requirements established by the first women’s committee regarding support of women researchers?
The first women’s committee in the APA was due to the efforts of the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP), which consists of a group of women psychologists without whom the APA’s support policy for women researchers would not have started.
The “resolutions and recommendations” advocated by the AWP included not only legal regulations of the federal government but also issues such as pregnancy, birth, and child rearing which were conventionally considered private issues. These issues had never been included in the field of support policy for women researchers. To some this suggests the women who organized the AWP were much more feminists than psychologists. (This statement is very controversial and would be disputed by western psychologists, especially female ones. It adds nothing to the abstract and should be deleted.)
When the women’s committee was created, the concern of the private field for the home was not shared with the APA, and it remained as a later task for the AWP. Another task for the AWP was how the minority status of women within the APA should be recognized. The reason for this is that the problems of discrimination during the early 1970’s were, first of all, based on class and race, and the viewpoint of discrimination against women was generally associated with them.
The principal primary sources used in this study are American Psychological Association Records (Library of Congress) and Association for Women in Psychology Records (Schlesinger Library, Harvard University).