MAKERS Profile

Ellie Smeal

Co-Founder & President, Feminist Majority

In this video

In this MAKERS interview, Ellie Smeal talks about joining the National Organization for Women (NOW) as a housewife looking to take part in the women's movement. That one decision would lead to an unexpected life as a career feminist who introduced the world to the "Feminist Majority."
Eleanor (Ellie) Smeal, is Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Through both organizations, Smeal has played a leading role in both national and state campaigns to win women’s rights legislation and in a number of landmark state and federal court cases for women’s rights. Smeal was the first to identify the “gender gap” -- the difference in the way women and men vote -- and popularized its usage in election and polling analyses to enhance women’s voting clout.   For over 30 years, Smeal has been at the forefront of almost every major women’s rights victory – from the integration of Little League, newspaper help-wanted ads, and police departments to the passage of landmark legislation, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Equal Credit Act, Civil Rights Restoration Act, Violence Against Women Act, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, and Civil Rights Act of 1991. For the 1997 international Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan to counter the Taliban’s abuse of women, the Feminist Majority Foundation was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1102.   Smeal serves on a number of boards, including the National Council for Research on Women, the National Organization for Women, the Executive Committee of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and the Leadership Circle of the Alliance for Ratification of CEDAW.

More From Ellie

The American Dream
Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation Ellie Smeal talks about her parents, specifically how her mother made sure that Ellie knew she could grow up and do anything.

Italian-American
In this MAKERS interview, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation Ellie Smeal talks about growing up Italian-American and being stereotyped not only because of her heritage, but also because of her gender.

The Truman Race
Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation Ellie Smeal talks about her earliest memory of politics: the Truman Race.

Universities and Segregation
In this MAKERS interview, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation Ellie Smeal talks about going to school below the Mason-Dixon line and learning the harsh reality of segregation.

The Average Working U.S. Woman
Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation Ellie Smeal provides a real look into working women in the United States and their paid leave.

Fighting Domestic Violence
In this MAKERS interview, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Ellie Smeal talks about realizing the significance of domestic abuse and working to change the laws.

Little League Girl
Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority, Ellie Smeal talks about the case she took on to fight for a little girl to play Little League.

The ERA's Purpose
In this MAKERS interview, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation Ellie Smeal talks about why the Equal Rights Amendment was and still is essential for a Constitutional guarantee that you can't discriminate on the basis of gender. 

Reagan's Women Problem
In this MAKERS interview, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation Ellie Smeal talks about the gender gap in terms of real politics and presidential elections.

Taking On the Taliban
Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority, Ellie Smeal talks about how her organization was the first to recognize and call out the Taliban for their human and women's rights violations, even when the media didn't care to take note.

The Feminist Job
In this MAKERS interview, Ellie Smeal talks about how actually becoming a "career feminist" evolved from the sheer desire to continue making positive change.