The genesis of the Council on the Economic Status of Women was found in the House of Representatives when, in August of 1975, Representative Stanley A. Enebo, Chair of the Labor-Management Relations Committee, called a special interim meeting to research the status of women and employment in Minnesota. This preliminary hearing led Representative Enebo to introduce a bill calling for the establishment of the Council. This bill was also included as a legislative priority by Governor Wendell Anderson in 1976. The council's statutory mandate was, '...to study all matters related to the economic status of women in the state of Minnesota.' The original council included five members of the House and Senate, and five members appointed by the governor. The original bill included a sunset date for the Council of 1978; this was successfully removed and the Council continued to operate in its original fashion until 1983. As a response to gubernatorial appointees who were opposed to the council in 1981, the council was reformed to a commission in 1983, removing the gubernatorial appointees and reconstructing the Commission as a body of eight legislators, four from each body and four from each political party. At its height, the Commission employed four people.
Throughout its history, the Commission fought off regular attempts to modify or eliminate its existence. In 2005, the Commission was eliminated and its duties were transferred to the Legislative Coordinating Commission, where it was reorganized as an Office. Today the Office on the Economic Status of Women (OESW) remains a part of the Legislative Coordinating Commission, operating under the same mandate of the original statutory charge. (Minnesota Statutes 3.303, Subdivision 7)
In 1963, President Kennedy established the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as the Commissioner. The commission was designed to respond to the public conversation that was emerging around the role of women in society at large, women's rights, and women in the workplace. President Kennedy encouraged states, counties and cities to establish their own commissions to appropriately respond to the status of women in various parts of the country. In Minnesota, Governor Rolvaag established a Council on Women in 1965 but little information is available as to the operations of this entity. The Council on the Economic Status of Women and the original August 1975 hearing emerged from several factors converging at the same time, including a backlog of Human Rights complaints from women in the workplace, the emerging presence of women in unions, and the increased percentage of women in the work force.
Leadership History. Council on the Economic Status of Women, Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women, and Office on the Economic Status of Women, 1976-2010.
Newsletter. Council on the Economic Status of Women, November, 1976. The first issue of the newsletter.