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40 Years Strong: APA’s Committee on Women in Psychology Made History

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By Joan C. Chrisler, PhD, 2013 Chair of APA’s Committee on Women in Psychology

It may be hard to imagine now, but before the creation of APA’s Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP), there was blatant discrimination in the hiring of women psychologists and obliviousness to, if not open disregard for, the needs of women in research. Over the last 40 years, CWP has advocated tirelessly to improve the status of women in psychology.

In 1969, 10 members of the Association of Women in Psychology stormed the floor of APA’s Council of Representatives with a list of 52 resolutions to make women’s voices heard. This action laid the groundwork for CWP’s genesis in 1973. You can read more on CWP’s fascinating history in this Monitor article. For a group that has generated so much change for the better, there is much to celebrate during this Women’s History Month.

Last August, CWP celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding at the Society for the Psychology of Women (Division 35) social hour during the APA convention, at the conference of the Association for Women in Psychology, and at a committee reunion dinner in Honolulu.  The committee was also delighted to receive a presidential citation from 2013 APA President Donald Bersoff commending the current and past members for their work.

Preserving the committee’s history has been an important part of the celebratory activities. At the Honolulu convention, the Society for the History of Psychology (Division 26) and Division 35 co-sponsored a Living History event at which Division 26 President Dr. Alexandra Rutherford interviewed CWP chairs from each decade of the committee’s existence – Drs. Loraine  D. Eyde, Ellyn Kaschak, Hortensia Amaro, Linda M. Forrest, Karen F. Wyche, and me.

Dr. Rutherford asked each of us about what the committee worked on during our time as chair, what was going on in society at the time, how serving on the committee impacted our careers, and our thoughts on what the committee should work on in the future.  The discussion was wide-ranging and very interesting.  The committee has also documented its own history in a journal article published in the December 2013 issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly.

CWP thanks the staff of APA’s Women’s Programs Office and everyone else who made our 40th anniversary celebrations so memorable.  Now we turn our attention to the issues that will occupy us for the next 40 years!


Chrisler, J. C., de las Fuentes, C., Durvasula, R. S., Esnil, E. M., McHugh, M. C., Miles-Cohen, S. E., . . . Wisdom, J. P. (2013). The American Psychological Association’s Committee on Women in Psychology: 40 years of contributions to the transformation of psychology. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37(4), 444-454. doi:10.1177/0361684313505442

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