Felice N. Schwartz, a prolific writer and organizer, helped provide women with better access to the workplace and especially the top levels of corporate America.
Schwartz’s several books and articles convinced major companies that it was more cost-effective to offer flexible schedules for women than fire a woman manager and train a replacement. Her work was sometimes controversial, such as her call for what was dubbed “the mommy track” by the media, but it always heightened awareness of women’s career conflicts.
In 1962, Schwartz founded Catalyst, a national organization to help women re-enter the work force and help companies find women board members. In the 1960s, women represented less than 35% of the workforce. Near the end of the century, they comprised over 46%. From 1977 to 1997, the numbers of women on Fortune 500 company boards grew from 46 to over 400.
Schwartz’s Catalyst efforts, her pioneering research on job-sharing, dual career couples, parental leave, and other such issues have changed corporate America. Such changes have removed barriers to women’s upward mobility.