As we roll into March, we are proud to celebrate Women’s History Month and recognize the significant achievements that women have made throughout history, and continue to do so today. As an organization, the Jaycees are proud of the strength of women’s membership in local chapters, and the leadership roles that women play at all levels of our group, including 2014 National President Fay Poissant.
But it hasn’t always been this way. Did you know that the Jaycees were a men-only organization until 1984? Previously, there were separate groups for men and women. We are extremely pleased that 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision in Roberts vs United States Jaycees, when it was held that refusal to admit women into the organization was both a violation of First Amendment rights, and unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. You can read more about the Supreme Court’s decision here. Shortly after the Court’s ruling, the Jaycees voted to open membership to all young individuals, ushering in a new era of progress and successes.
It doesn’t take much research to realize just how much the Jaycees have benefited from this change. From the first female National President, Sydney Ward, who served in 2001, the representation of women in Jaycee leadership has been distinguished, including past National Presidents Julie Metzger (2005), Lisa Parrish (2006), Denice O’Neil (2008), Joanie Cramer (2011), and Chrystal Ramsay-Dyess (2013). On a local level, the involvement and representation of women leaders has been just as significant.
As the premier leadership organization empowering young adults to be active, the efforts of women such as those listed above have helped to provide Jaycees across the country with the resources and expertise they need to make a difference within themselves and their communities. We’d love to hear from some of our women Jaycees…why did you join the organization? How have the networking, leadership development, projects, and trainings helped you grow as an individual? Share your thoughts through social media with other Jaycees on our Facebook and Twitter pages…we can all be proud of our combined contributions and look forward to making exciting new history – for all individuals.