FEW is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1968 shortly after government issued Executive Order 11375 which added sex-discrimination to the list of prohibited discrimination within the Federal Government. Although E.O. 11375 was an important milestone, several women were concerned that the Civil Service Commission and individual agencies may not put forth the vigorous effort necessary to ensure compliance with E.O. 11375. Although the Federal Women’s Program (FWP) had been established, the early organizers of FEW realized that the government could dismantle FWP, and they wanted to ensure that there would always be an organization dedicated to promoting equality for women and addressing concerns of women in the Federal workforce. Additionally, because FWP is a government function, it is limited in its political scope, and cannot lobby Congress. As a private organization, FEW is not restricted in that area.
As a private organization, FEW works as an advocacy group to improve the status of women employed by the Federal government. This includes contact with Congress to encourage progressive legislation. FEW national officers meet with management officials at all levels of agencies to demonstrate support of the FWP, encourage officials to support the program and to obtain insight on the effectiveness of the FWP at agency and local levels.
WHAT FEW IS NOT
FEW is not a labor organization, and therefore does not “represent” employees. However, FEW officers can meet with management officials to discuss matters that fall within their field of interest. Managers and EEO officials may join FEW, and hold local or national office. There is no conflict between being an employee of the FWP and joining FEW. In fact, persons officially charged with FWP responsibilities often work with FEW officers and members to develop goals and objectives for agency programs designed to meet the agency’s needs and to ensure the equality of opportunity for women in the Federal workforce.
FEW’s organization is three-tiered and consists of National, Regional, and Chapter levels. All three tiers work together to fulfill the goals of FEW’s four major program areas:
- Compliance, and
A newsletter, FEW’s News and Views, is published electronically on a bi-monthly basis.
Most of FEW’s membership is made up of people employed by or retired from the Federal government. Federal government contractors, active or retired, or anyone who subscribes to the purposes of the organization is also eligible to become a member of FEW. As a grassroots organization, FEW’s vitality and effectiveness are directly linked to membership. FEW has a specifically-defined membership. Members must join and pay dues. It has a National governing board and local chapters around the world. Participation in FEW is not limited to women. Anyone who is concerned about discrimination based on sex and employment opportunities for women in the Federal government is welcome to attend FEW meetings.