Our History

1920
The Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor is formed to collect information about women in the workforce and safeguard good working conditions for women.*

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.*

1963
Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.*

1964
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination in employment on the basis of race and sex. At the same time it establishes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate complaints and impose penalties.*

1971
“Changing Consciousness of American Women” conference, held at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, is the catalyst for developing a resource center for women in West Michigan. 

1972
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Originally drafted by Alice Paul in 1923, the amendment reads: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The amendment died in 1982 when it failed to achieve ratification by a minimum of 38 states.*

1973
Women’s Resource Center opens doors in space donated by Grand Rapids Community College.

1974
Women’s Resource Center offers educational scholarships as a career growth strategy. 

Innovative “Management Skills for Women” seminar is launched. 

1975-1979
Women’s Resource Center pioneers Career Development Program and implements Displaced Homemaker Program.

1978
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women.*

1980-1989
Sexual Harassment Prevention training provided by Women’s Resource Center to local corporations. 

Women’s Resource Center launches Minority Women’s Outreach program  and the Single Parent Program.

The Working Women’s Clothing Closet is established by Women’s Resource Center.

1990-1999
Women’s Resource Center breaks occupational stereotyping with Women in Skilled Trades Pre-Apprenticeship program and focuses on opening doors to nontraditional jobs. 

New employment programs offered for women who are homeless, receiving welfare, and are survivors of domestic violence. 

2000-2006
Workplace Initiative Project launched to facilitate change in the workplace. 

Women’s Resource Center moves into its current space at Riverview Center at 678 Front NW in October 2002.

New services to facilitate career advancement of working women offered.

2006-2008
Women’s Resource Center affirms strategic direction to serve economically and socially disadvantaged women. New gender-specific self-sufficiency programs targeting low income single mothers, female ex-offenders, and women living in poverty are piloted. 

2009
President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck. Previously, victims (most often women) were only allowed 180 days from the date of the first unfair paycheck. This Act is named after a former employee of Goodyear who alleged that she was paid 15–40% less than her male counterparts, which was later found to be accurate.*

2012
New data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported by the Economic Opportunity Institute, indicates that there are more women in the labor force than in decades past, and the wage gap is smaller than it was 40 years ago. But, they are still more likely to live in poverty than men.

Women’s Resource Center is one of five organizations nationwide to receive funding from the US Department of Justice to pilot a mentoring and employment support program for women at the Kent County Jail. Learn more about our New Beginnings program.

2013
Women’s Resource Center celebrates its 40th anniversary year and service to 40,000 women over those years. 

*Quoted from InfoPlease.