Catalyst Inc. audiovisual materialsCreation: 1968-2014
Catalyst Inc. is a global nonprofit headquartered in New York City that is dedicated to advancing women in the workplace through research, consulting and advisory services, and outreach initiatives geared toward driving positive change. It was founded in 1962 by feminist author and advocate Felice N. Schwartz (1925-1996). Areas of focus have included workplace flexibility, dual-career families, and childcare; women on corporate boards and in leadership positions; diversity, equity, and inclusion issues; sexual harassment; the gender pay gap; and unconscious bias. The Catalyst Inc. audiovisual materials document Catalyst's media appearances, speeches, and events. The largest portion of the collection relates to the Catalyst Awards Dinner and Conference from 1980 to 2010.
- Creation: 1968-2014
- Catalyst Inc. (Organization)
32 Linear Feet
Catalyst Inc. is a global nonprofit headquarterd in New York City that is dedicated to advancing women in the workplace through research, consulting and advisory services, and outreach initiatives geared toward driving positive change. Areas of focus have included workplace flexibility, dual-career families, and childcare; women on corporate boards and in leadership positions; diversity, equity, and inclusion issues; sexual harassment; the gender pay gap; and unconscious bias.
Catalyst was founded in 1962 by feminist author and advocate Felice N. Schwartz (1925-1996). A Smith College graduate, Schwartz led the organization as president for thirty-one years. During its early decades, Catalyst focused on supporting individual women in their careers. It launched a pilot job-sharing project with the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare, proving that part-time social workers could manage welfare caseloads without a significant loss in productivity and with less turnover. Other endeavors included a National Network of Career Resource Centers, a Career and Family Center, and a series of publications aimed at helping female college students envision and plan for their careers. The Corporate Board Resource, later named Corporate Board Placement, was launched in 1977 to assist corporations in identifying suitable female candidates for their boards of directors.
Schwartz wrote prolifically and made many media appearances advocating for women. While her 1972 book How to Go to Work When Your Husband is Against It, Your Children Aren't Old Enough, and There's Nothing You Can Do Anyhow was well received, she later became a controversial figure following the publication of her 1989 Harvard Business Review article, "Management Women and the New Facts of Life." Critics claimed Schwartz's article suggested two possible paths for working women: one career-focused (fast-track, viewed positively) and one that balances work and family life (slow-track, viewed negatively). The resulting phrase "Mommy track," coined by the New York Times, became part of the larger cultural dialogue of the 1990s. Schwartz maintained that her article was misinterpreted, asserting that her point was to illustrate how women face barriers men do not, and to encourage top (generally male) executives to fully utilize women's talent and potential, no matter how they choose to organize their lives.
Following Schwartz's retirement in 1993, Sheila Wellington (1932-), former secretary of Yale University, succeeded to Catalyst's presidency. The organization's operations expanded, both in scope and geographically. During her tenure, Wellington pursued a shift in approach first articulated by Schwartz: that Catalyst could increase its efficacy by focusing on changing corporate culture from the inside rather than elevating individual women. Accordingly, Wellington launched a series of major research projects over the course of the next decade that put Catalyst on the national stage as an information broker, including Women of Color in Corporate Management (1997-2001), the first significant research study to be conducted in this country focusing specifically on women of color professionals in the workplace. Wellington also launched the Census of Women Board Directors (WBD) and Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners (COTE), two annual studies aimed at exposing the lack of women in corporate leadership at Fortune-list companies.
Catalyst Canada's Toronto office opened in 2000, followed by the Western Region office in San Jose, California, in 2001. In 2003, former technology industry executive and founding CEO of AltaVista Internet Software Inc. Ilene H. Lang (1943-) became president and chief executive officer. Lang further expanded Catalyst globally during her tenure, opening offices in Europe, India, Australia, and Japan. Lang was followed by Deborah Gillis, who led the organization from 2014 to 2018. Prior to her tenure as president and CEO, Gillis was vice president of North America at Catalyst Canada from 2006 to 2012 and chief operating officer from 2012 to 2014. Lorraine Hariton succeeded Gillis as president and CEO in 2018. Catalyst's twenty-first-century work focuses on four key areas: Advancing Women, Women and the Future of Work, Lead for Equity and Inclusion, and MARC (Men Advocating Real Change). The organization offers a variety of knowledge products, workshops, webinars, and events, and exhibits a strong social media presence.
In 1976, Catalyst held its first annual Catalyst Awards to celebrate individual women corporate board members. The nature of the awards changed in 1987 to recognize corporations and specific programs and initiatives that recruit, develop, and advance women in the workplace. The awards are presented at the annual Catalyst Awards Dinner. An accompanying Catalyst Awards Conference began in 1991, assembling experts from around the world to present and lead discussions related to women's leadership. The conference and dinner draw more than 2,000 attendees.
Catalyst maintains an extensive network of member organizations, referred to as Catalyst Supporters (numbering more than 500 in 2022). These financial contributors—corporations, firms, associations, and other organizations—receive premium content and services and engage in community building.
Scope and Contents
The Catalyst Inc. audiovisual materials document Catalyst's media appearances, speeches, and events. The largest portion of the collection relates to the Catalyst Awards Dinner and Conference from 1980 to 2010.
The collection is arranged in seven series: Administration; Early initiatives; Research; Information Center; Marketing, communications, and public affairs; Catalyst Awards; and Seminars and conferences.
The Administration series is divided into four subseries: Board of Directors, Felice N. Schwartz papers, Sheila W. Wellington papers, and Ilene H. Lang papers.
The Board of Directors subseries consists of official snapshots taken of a 1995 board of directors meeting and one undated meeting. This subseries is restricted until 2045.
The Felice N. Schwartz papers capture a segment of Schwartz's career from 1973 to 1997 through audio and video recordings of interviews and speeches. Notably, there are two news appearances where she discusses the "Mommy Track" in 1989 and oral history interviews with Schwartz conducted in 1991 and 1997.
The Sheila W. Wellington papers contain many formal and informal portraits of Wellington at events. There are video recordings of media appearances promoting her book Be Your Own Mentor, as well as Catalyst as an organization.
The Ilene H. Lang papers consist primarily of formal portraits and objects that Lang kept in her office that document career highlights, such as receiving the Foreign Policy Association medal or memorabilia from her work with the Girl Scouts.
The Early initiatives series consists of two audio recordings: Catalyst for Youth, "A Little Bit You Can Do," and Catalyst in Social Work, Boston Welfare Department, both dating from 1968. Catalyst for Youth was a pilot program offering academic tutoring and guidance to children from low-income families who qualify for the next step on the academic ladder.
The Research series is arranged in two subseries: Catalyst census initiatives and Survey projects.
The Catalyst census initiatives subseries consists primarily of videocassettes of press briefings or media interviews dating from 1995 to 2002.
The Survey projects subseries contains photographs and video recordings from several events for Women of Color, Going Global, Women and Business, and Women in Corporate Management.
The Information Center series consists of materials related to Catalyst's professionally staffed library. It is divided into three subseries: Library, Audiovisual Center and Media Review Resource, and Training.
The Library subseries contains educational kits about careers, job interviews, resume preparation, and childcare solutions. These materials were available to Catalyst employees to borrow, and many still have the call number tags attached. These materials date from 1975 to 1997, with one item dating from 2006.
The Audiovisual Center and Media Review Resource subseries consists primarily of the video recordings, "Can You Have It All? Do You Want It All?" series, "The Relocation Trauma," and "Tale of O: On Being Different." These materials date from 1979 to 1983.
The Training subseries consists of three sets of computer and media training videocassettes. Two of the sets are dated 1984; the third is dated 1992.
The Marketing, communications, and public affairs series is organized into three subseries: Marketing Department internal files, Media clips, and Speakers Bureau.
The Marketing Department internal files subseries includes formal and informal staff portraits, graphics used in reports, and various video recordings on topics related to women in the workplace from companies unrelated to Catalyst.
The Media clippings subseries consists primarily of video recordings of Catalyst staff media interviews or mentions by media outlets of Catalyst research. There are also some audio recordings. The interview subject, interviewer, and/or interviewee are included when known. The materials date from 1980 to 2004
The Speakers Bureau subseries consists of portrait photographs of participants and dates from 1997 to 2000.
The Catalyst Awards Conference series is the largest set of materials in the collection. It documents the awards dinner and conference between 1980 and 2010. The materials include audio and video recordings of the awards dinner, as well as award winner application videos. There are event photographs, conference programs, invitations, and forms, as well as individual CEO portraits of presenters or winners.
The Seminars and conferences series consists of still photographs, audio, and video recordings of workshops, panels, and presentations. Several are from outside the Catalyst organization but include speakers from Catalyst, such as Susan Lund, director of Catalyst's Career & Family Center, and Phyllis Silverman, manager of the Corporate Child Care Resource at Catalyst. There are several seminars or panels about career and family or dual-career families. Of interest are audio recordings of scholars Lucy McCaffrey, Silvia Reischitz, and Ms. Mommolitti speaking on women in Ireland, women in Austria, and women in Italy, respectively, during the early 1980s. There are also some Women in Tech event photographs and video recordings (High 5 and Hi-Tech) from the early 2000s.
Some files within this collection are subject to 25-year or 50-year time seals from the date of creation due to privacy/security reasons. Such restrictions are noted in the file title. Otherwise, this collection is open for research.
Litigators may not view the collection without approval.
Negatives/Slides material (Boxes 37-39) are located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at email@example.com.
Copyright restrictions may apply.
Language of Materials
On deposit from Catalyst Inc.
Catalyst Inc. records (Accession 2728), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Some publications received as part of the same accession were transferred to Hagley's Published Collections Department. They can be accessed via the library's catalog.
Previous iterations of the Catalyst website can be found via Hagley’s Archive-It web archives.
This finding aid is dedicated in memory of Lynn Ann Catanese.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Catalyst Inc. audiovisual materials
- Laurie Sather and Diane E. Bockrath
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description:
- Script of description: