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October 6, 2008    DOL > WB > Overview 1920 - 2003   

WB -- An Overview 1920 - 2007


The U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, established by Congress in 1920, is the only federal agency mandated to represent the needs of wage-earning women in the public policy process.

For 87 years, it has been meeting that mandate -- identifying the issues working women care about most and vigorously pioneering research and remedies to address them. For example:

  • The Women's Bureau has investigated and reported on scores of women's work issues - such as the conditions facing "negro women in industry" in 1922, "older women as office workers" in the '50s, contingent workers in the '80s and nonstandard hour child care options in the '90s, to name just a few. It regularly publishes fact sheets on the status of women workers as well as resources for addressing workplace concerns.

  • The Bureau has always been a champion for the interests of working women. One of the agency's early achievements was the inclusion of women under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which, for the first time, set minimum wages and maximum working hours.

  • Over the years it has identified the need for more skills training, wider job opportunities, better pay and conditions for the new female workforce during World War II, and was instrumental in the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

  • It also has a long history of helping workers balance job and family responsibilities - which includes the launch of a major initiative to encourage employer-sponsored child care back in 1982, the establishment of a multi-media Work and Family Clearinghouse in 1989 and pressure for the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

  • The Bureau continues to work cooperatively with employers and other partners to improve the prospects for the 21st Century working women. Through demonstration projects utilizing the latest technology and professionals as mentors, young girls are exploring the possibility of careers in science, engineering, and technology; opportunities for careers in nursing are being explored, Generation X women are learning about financial security and retirement savings using a web-based curriculum; women with young children are developing new skills on-line; and women business owners are developing policies to provide workplace flexibility to their employees. It has also expanded its information dissemination system to the 21st Century Working Woman by initiating a bi-monthly electronic newsletter that reaches more than 250,000 women.

  • While the Women's Bureau is proud of these accomplishments, the credit extends far beyond this agency: To a Secretary of Labor and a President who are true champions of working women. To employers who recognize that women's work makes the world work. And most of all, to women workers.

The Women's Bureau wants to be a source of reliable information for you. Please call, write or e-mail us.

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