The Smithsonian Institution Women's Council (SIWC) is an assembly of Smithsonian employees formed to represent the concerns of women before the administration of the Smithsonian Institution. The Council was formally established by Secretary S. Dillon Ripley on April 19, 1972. The founding members were appointed by the Office of the Secretary on September 13, 1972 and were thereafter elected by Smithsonian employees.
The SIWC operates as a voluntary support group, reporting directly to the Assistant Secretary for Finance and Administration and working with the Office of Equal Employment and Minority Affairs. It is a member of the Smithsonian Advocacy Network, which is coordinated by the Wider Audience Development Program.
From 1973 to 1979 Council members were elected annually by Smithsonian employees; from then on, elections were held biennially. The Council consists of the twenty members who receive the highest number of votes; the remaining nominees serve as alternates and on committees. The Council has monthly meetings to discuss projects and proposals and to vote on issues. Each member is required to serve on at least one committee; committees meet weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. The Executive Committee, which consists of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and Historian, was elected annually by the Council until 1983. Since 1983 the Executive Committee has been elected by the Council six months into its term, for a two-year period. Once a member's term on the Executive Committee is complete, members may choose to continue on the Council for a second two-year term. The Executive Committee meets weekly to discuss administrative priorities and the next monthly agenda.
The Council is dedicated to the support of all employees but concentrates on issues most important to women. Its concerns have included improvement of benefit packages; the institution of day-care facilities; the advancement of women into upper-echelon positions through training and institutional initiatives; and raising of the general institutional consciousness about issues particular to women, both in the workplace and out. The Council sponsors programs, lectures, and training sessions; operates a library of resources; helped to establish first Women's Week, then Women's History Month at the Smithsonian; worked for family leave, medical leave, and retirement packages; worked for flexible working schedules and job-sharing opportunities; helped to establish the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, 1988, and the Infant Care Center,1991; and has published the SIWC Newsletter since 1980, known as Four Star throughout this collection. The Council founded the Child Care Advisory Board and the Women in Museums Network. The Senior Advisory Group to the SIWC was formed in 1984 to act as advisors and advocates to the Council.
Chairs of the Smithsonian Institution Women's Council have included: Edna Owens, 1972; Gretchen Gayle (Ellsworth), 1973; Edith Mayo, 1974; Mary C. Quinn, 1975; Diane G. Walker,1976; Penelope A. Packard, 1977; Rosemary M. DeRosa, 1978; Charlene James, 1979; Audrey B. Davis, 1980; Margaret Santiago, 1981; Elizabeth Beuck (Derbyshire), 1982; Susan Kalcik,1983-1985; Carolyn Jones, 1985-1987; Judith O'Sullivan, 1987-1989; Ellen V. Sprouls, 4/12/1989-11/19/1989; Janice Kaplan, 1989-1991; Joanne Gigliotti, 1991-1993; and Heidi Schwartz, 1993- .
A complete list of the standing and ad hoc committees of the Council from 1972 to1992 follows. Most of these committees have records in Series 3 below, but the activities of some are only recorded in monthly Council minutes and have no separate records in this Record Unit:
Ruth Adams - 1984-1985
Affirmative Action - 1988-1989, 1992
Brochure - 1985, 1990
Career Development - 1973-1974, 1976-1979, 1982
Child Care - 1973-1981 (called Day Care, 1982-1985, then part of Services & Benefits, 1985-1992)
Constitutional Review - 1986-1987
Day Care - 1982-1985 (called Child Care, 1973-1981, then part of Services & Benefits,1985-1992)
Family Leave - 1992
Information Processing - 1981-1985
Mentoring - 1992
Newsletter (includes Four Star, 1980-1992) - 1980-1992
Official Collateral Duty - 1985
Outreach - 1986-1990 (combined into Outreach Programs, 1991)
Outreach Programs - 1991-1992
Policies & Procedures - 1982-1983
Programs - 1975-1982, 1986-1990 (combined into Outreach Programs, 1991)
Publicity - 1972-1980 (absorbed into Newsletter, 1980)
Recruitment & Promotions - 1973-1979
May Sarton - 1984-1985
Senior Advisory Group - 1984, 1986, 1989
Services & Benefits - 1982-1992
Training - 1983-1985 (called Workshops and Seminars, then merged with Programs,1985)
Upward Mobility - 1974-1981
Women's History Month - 1984-1986, 1992