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Italian-American

MAKERS Moment

Italian-American

More From Ellie

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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.

Ellie's Biography

Erie Upbringing:Born in Ashtabula, Ohio and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, both on Lake Erie.
Mother's Words:"You only live once. You only go once through this. You should be able to do it all."
Married Young:"The same day I got my master's degree I got married."
Housewife:A housewife before she joined NOW, Smeal says, "The myth that housewives don't work is boloney."

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.