Published Date

November 9, 1970

From Report of the American Historical Association Committee on the Status of Women (1970)

The present demand for social justice for women coincides with the permanent interest of the historical profession. To increase the opportunities open to women in the field of history is to advance the quality of the profession itself. Both objectives dictate the necessity of vigorous steps to remove existing disabilities and to establish a genuine parity for women historians. The American Historical Association has a responsibility for developing professional criteria and administrative practices that will contribute to the achievement of these ends. Accordingly we propose that the Association adopt the following basic positions, policies, and institutional measures:


I. Positions

  1. The American Historical Association expresses its formal disapproval of discrimination against women in graduate school admissions, grants, awarding of degrees; and in faculty recruitment, salary, promotions and conditions of employment.
  2. The American Historical Association pledges itself to work actively toward enlarging the numbers of women in the profession by enhancing the opportunities available to them, acting both through its own resources as an organization and through the cooperation which departments of history may be expected to give it.

II. Policies

The American Historical Association commits itself to the following policies in four areas which it regards as crucial to significant progress in the foreseeable future:

  1. Continuing surveillance of institutional policy and practice in the training, recruitment, and academic promotion of qualified women.
  2. Assistance to individual women in the development of their scholarly and teaching careers.
  3. Involvement of greater numbers of women in the formal activities of the Association.
  4. Development of means for rectifying grievances resulting from discriminating practices.

III. Institutional measures

Recognizing that responsibility for activity in each of the above areas must be shared by www.historians.organized in departments and acting as individuals, the Association will provide initiative and assistance through the following practical measures:

  1. The American Historical Association will establish a standing Committee on Women Historians to develop the sustained attention and pressure indispensable to an advance in the status of women. This committee should consist of eight members representing as broad a range of institutions as possible. It should be composed of historians at different stages of their professional development, including graduate students. The committee will have a paid executive secretary responsible for coordinating and administering on a day-to-day basis the functions with which the committee is charged. The duties of the committee will include the following:
    1. To maintain and make public no less than once a year information on the numbers and progress of women students in graduate school, the proportions and rank of those employed, and a current picture of the standing of women in the historical profession.
    2. To publish information on departments or institutions whose methods of enlarging the role of women in the profession may serve as models for other institutions.
    3. To develop and maintain a file of women historians that will provide information on available personnel to interested departments and to the AHA.
    4. To gather and make available the fullest information concerning the recourses open to women who face problems of discrimination or other difficulties in employment and to provide individual consultation and advice on such matters.
  2. The American Historical Association will act together with committees on the status of women and on academic freedom that exist in other professional organizations to develop effective mechanisms for dealing with individual cases of alleged discrimination against women. The Association will also support actively any positive steps in this direction undertaken by the AAUP’s recently reactivated committee established for this purpose.
  3. The American Historical Association will secure greater representation of women on the programs of its meetings, on its standing committees, and on the Executive Council.
  4. The American Historical Association will seek to enlist the active collaboration of departments of history in:
    1. Working for the elimination of nepotism rules, written or unwritten.
    2. Developing a greater flexibility with regard to part-time employment. The Association urges that part-time positions carry full academic status and proportionate compensation at all levels, including the tenured ranks.
    3. Encouraging a greater flexibility in the administration of graduate degree requirements by adapting these to the needs and capacities of individual students. The Association encourages graduate departments to work for greater flexibility in permitting the transfer of graduate course work from one institution to another.
    4. Encouraging the adoption of a policy of maternity leaves for women graduate students and women faculty. For graduate students, the period of leave (whether it takes the form of full-time leave, reduced work load, or extension of the schedule within which requirements have to be fulfilled) should not be counted against the number of years that precede consideration for promotion.

Next section: The Committee’s Charge and Its Interpretation