This year marks the Institute for Women’s Policy Research's 25th anniversary. To learn more about IWPR's 25th anniversary event on May 22, 2013, visit the event page here.
Help IWPR launch the next 25 years if making research count for women by visiting our 25th anniversary sponsorship opportunities page.
IWPR was founded in 1987 when Heidi Hartmann and others saw a need for an organization whose distinct purpose was to develop policy research that focused on women. IWPR came onto the scene with a bang, releasing its first research results and testifying before the U.S. Senate with findings on the costs to American women and taxpayers that result from women's lack of job protection after an absence due to childbirth. IWPR released Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave in 1990, and in 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law, giving employees access to unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons including the birth or adoption of a child.
IWPR is founded by Heidi Hartmann and Teresa Odendahl after meetings in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, DC, and incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC.
For every dollar earned by men in the work force, women in the work force earn 65 cents. Ronald Reagan is President of the United States.
With the Women's Legal Defense Fund as the catalyst, the first IWPR research project is funded by the Ford Foundation. The findings from Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave are released as testimony to the U.S. Senate in October and reported in The Wall Street Journal.
|The staff expands to include a third doctoral-level researcher and two computer programmers to conduct the study, Low-Wage Jobs and Workers: Trends and Options for Change, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and carried out with Women Work!|
|1989||In the spring, IWPR holds the First Annual Women's Policy Research Conference; a one-day event attended by nearly 200 people that covers a wide range of feminist research.|
IWPR staff are among those who provide testimony regarding The Act for Better Child Care, which is the first comprehensive federal child care legislation since Richard Nixon vetoed a bill in 1971, and is signed into law by President George Herbert Walker Bush.
The 35 Million: A Preliminary Report on the Status of Young Women is prepared in conjunction with the Young Women's Conference. This effort spawns The Young Women's Project.
|1991||IWPR staff present the lead testimony documenting continued discrimination against women in the labor market, before the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor regarding the proposed Civil Rights Act of 1991, later signed into law. The Act improves remedies for federal race, sex, and national origin discrimination.|
IWPR staff witness President Bill Clinton sign the Family and Medical Leave Act in the Rose Garden as the first major act of his new administration.
To educate the Clinton Administration about women's concerns in welfare reform, IWPR sponsors Women and Welfare Reform, a conference chaired by Congresswoman Patsy Mink and co-chaired by Congresswomen Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters and Congressman Ed Pastor.
IWPR completes "The Impact of the Glass Ceiling and Structural Changes on Minorities and Women" for the Glass Ceiling Commission of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Heidi Hartmann receives a MacArthur Fellowship award in recognition of her groundbreaking work in economics and her application of this work to women's policy issues.
Unemployment Insurance: Barriers to Access for Women and Part-Time Workers is published by the National Commission for Employment Policy. IWPR begins its ongoing partnership with advocates to improve employment benefits for women.
Welfare that Works: The Working Lives of AFDC Recipients research results are presented as testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Human Resources and the President's Interagency Task Force on Welfare Reform.
IWPR convenes the Leadership Conference for Women, the Economy, and the Elections. IWPR publishes a resource book of fact sheets and summaries from over 75 organizations that participated in the conference: From the Wage Gap to the Gender Gap: A Political and Economic Handbook.
In the fall, IWPR releases the first set of reports on The Status of Women in the States, focusing on thirteen states, the District of Columbia, and a national summary. Media response includes every major newspaper and many regional newspapers throughout the country, plus mentions on television and radio.
Findings from a Social Security Administration funded study conducted by Dr. Lois Shaw, Senior Consulting Economist, "How Elderly Women Become Poor," are published in the Social Security Bulletin.
For every dollar earned by men in the work force, women in the work force earn 74 cents.
The Fifth Women's Policy Research Conference, Women's Progress: Perspectives on the Past, Blueprint for the Future is attended by more than 300 people and presents the work of more than 100 researchers. IWPR celebrates its 10th anniversary at a reception.
The second series of The Status of Women in the States reports are released to continued media acclaim.
Heidi Hartmann is among Working Mother Magazine's "Working Mothers of the Year."
IWPR and the AFL-CIO release Equal Pay for Working Families, detailing the costs of the wage gap in each state. In response, Herb Block pens a cartoon (left) for The Washington Post. This report informs new equal pay legislation proposed in more than half the states.
In conjunction with the National Council of Women's Organizations' Social Security Task Force, IWPR coordinates a four-day retreat to develop a proposal for Social Security reform. Over sixty leaders and policy experts participate in what is described by The Washington Post as "an historic event." Strengthening Social Security for Women is produced in 2000 and Vice President Al Gore uses the credit for caregivers proposal in his presidential election campaign.
(cartoon, left, by Herbert Block, Published in the Washington Post, March 12, 1999)
IWPR staff release research funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on part-time work among managers and professionals at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the release is reported in Scientific American.
IWPR publishes the third series of The Status of Women in the States reports with additional features including letter grades for each state and new measures on women's health and well-being. The New York Times covers the release.
Heidi Hartmann gives testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions at a hearing examining gender-based wage discrimination.
In President George W. Bush's first 100 days in office: the White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach is closed and federal funding for international groups using their own funds to perform or discuss abortions is banned.
Thein Women and Public Policy is established to homor IWPR's long-time Board Member. Amy Lemar is the first holder of the fellowship.
IWPR Study Director Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever debates Dr. Wade Horn, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, on two occasions on issues of marriage promotion and child custody arrangements for welfare recipients.
IWPR Director of Research Dr. Barbara Gault presents testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness, pointing out that women who receive welfare are already working much more than is commonly assumed.
IWPR releases the fourth round of The Status of Women in the States reports. The study is cited in national newspapers like The Washington Post and USA Today, as well as in over 400 daily newspapers and local and national television outlets around the country, including Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics on CNN.
|2003||On June 22-24, in celebration of its 15th anniversary, IWPR convenes Women Working to Make a Difference, the Seventh International Women's Policy Research Conference.|
An IWPR report, Still a Man’s Labor Market: the Long-Term Earnings Gap, finds that Women workers in the prime working ages of 26 to 59 make only 38 percent of what prime-age men earn across the 15 years in the study.
By 2004, IWPR completes Status of Women in the States reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and continues to release national updates and state-specific studies as requested and funded by the states. Virtually every report resulted in significant policy changes in its state.
On April 27, 2005 Heidi Hartmann releases the IWPR report, Valuing Good Health: An Estimate of Costs and Savings for the Healthy Families Act, at a press conference announcing the introduction of the Healthy Families Act in Congress.
In June, IWPR co-hosts the Eighth International Women’s Policy Research Conference. The conference, “When Women Gain, So Does the World,” brought together more than 700 researchers, policy makers, educators, advocates from around the world.
Within two months of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in 2005, IWPR researchers begin studying women’s circumstances along the U.S. Gulf Coast and are among the first to respond with that focus.
IWPR receives the “Women Who Make a Difference” Member Center Award from the National Council for Research on Women for outstanding work in policy research.IWPR releases a new briefing paper, The Best and Worst State Economies for Women, marking the tenth anniversary of the Status of Women in the States project.
Nancy Pelosi is sworn in as the first woman Speaker of the House in the history of the United States Congress.
February 2007, San Francisco implements the first policy allowing all workers to earn and use paid sick days. This policy was inspired, in part, by a meeting with Senator Kennedy’s staff in 2000 during which IWPR staff put forward the idea of a new labor standard requiring a minimum number of paid sick days.
In March 2008, the Washington DC Council approved the "Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008" (the Act), requiring all employers to provide each employee with paid sick and/or safe leave.
Members and supporters of IWPR join its staff and board members to celebrate IWPR’s 20th Anniversary with a reception in New York City.IWPR co-hosts the Economic Justice Summit with the National Organization for Women Foundation and the National Council of Negro Women. The Summit program reflects a diversity of topics and presenters including Dr. Heidi Hartmann, Lilly Ledbetter, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dr. Dorothy Height, Kim Gandy, Eleanor Smeal, and Dr. Martha Burk.
President Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and signs an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls.IWPR and the Wellesley Centers for Women bring the insights of policymakers and leading researchers to bear on critical issues confronting women in the United States at a policy-research symposium, “Achieving Equity for Women: Policy Alternatives for the New Administration,” on April 2, 2009.
IWPR launches the Student Parent Success Initiative (SPSI), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, focusing on supporting students with dependent children who are pursuing college education.
IWPR, in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), releases findings from a national survey on the status of women in Morocco. The survey was conducted as part of IFES and IWPR’s Status of Women in the Middle East and North African (SWMENA) project and marks an expansion of IWPR’s work on international women’s issues. Following the survey, IWPR researchers travel to Cairo, Egypt to present original findings on Yemen.
An IWPR report, Social Security: Especially Vital to Women and People of Color, Men Increasingly Reliant, shows that reliance on Social Security has increased and that Social Security is our most effective anti-poverty program, lifting more than 14 million men and women aged 65 years and older above the poverty line in 2009.
IWPR releases a report, San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: outcomes for Employers and Employees that finds that both businesses and employees in San Francisco were generally in support of the nation’s first paid sick days legislation.
On March 8th, the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, IWPR releases research that shows it will take until 2056 for women and men’s earnings to reach pay parity if the wage gap continues to close at the same pace it has for the last fifty years.
June 2011, Connecticut becomes the first state to mandate paid sick leave.
Drawing on research from an IWPR report Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope, IWPR submits an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs Betty Dukes et al in their case against Wal-Mart for sex based employment discrimination.IWPR President Heidi Hartmann participates on a panel, alongside Cherie Blair and the First Lady of Gabon, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba at a United Nations panel discussion on the inaugural celebration of International Widow’s Day.
IWPR hosts a release event for its report, Increasing Opportunities for Low-Income Women and Student Parents in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Community College.
IWPR celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Since then, IWPR's research has informed programs and policy debates on a sweeping array of topics including proposing women-friendly poverty policy, promoting women's leadership and getting more women into politics, reducing the wage gap and encouraging more women to enter science and technology fields, increasing wages for child care workers, and improving low-income women's access to education.
Using a growing tool chest of research methods—including analysis of large datasets, original surveys, evaluation research, and cost-benefit analysis—IWPR has measured and tracked women's status in the U.S. and around the globe and assessed policies for their gendered impact, providing technical assistance related to dozens of local, state, and federal policies and policy proposals. IWPR has published more than 600 reports, fact sheets, and research-in-briefs that place women at the center of analysis. IWPR’s convenings and conferences have connected thousands of researchers, advocates, and policy leaders. Future IWPR events will continue to provide a unique venue for addressing policy through a gendered lens.
Today, in collaboration with its many partners and supporters, IWPR serves as a powerhouse of groundbreaking research targeted at eliminating gender disparities. IWPR’s work is cited in hundreds of news stories each year, including by prominent national and international news outlets such as The Rachel Maddow Show, PBS NewsHour, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, and many others. It has built a reputation as a rigorous, trusted, and objective research organization. IWPR staff continue to testify as experts both in Washington, DC, and in state houses across the country.
Looking forward, IWPR has established several priorities for the coming period, including:
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