About Us

The participation of women and girls in the YMCA was stressed almost from the beginnings of the YMCA in the United States. Women’s and girl’s programming initially grew out of local community needs rather than out of any centralized YMCA initiative; As self-governing from the beginning local associations were able to move quickly in providing services and membership for women and girls. As early as 1858 girl’s programs can be traced in YMCA history.

It wasn’t until much later that women were permitted to take on leadership roles in the organization. As the United States entered World War I, Women were called on to play a significant role in YMCA War Services. Over 5,100 women were engaged.

In the mid-1900s the movement really started to engage and elevate women in the Y. In 1988 The World YMCA Women’s Conference begins to study YMCA gender issues from a worldwide perspective. In the 1990s women work to be recognized in key leadership positions throughout the movement and establish equal opportunities for training and growth, although salary discrepancies remain.

In 2010, The Y made a bold move to rebrand its logo and image. Moving away from the traditional triangle in red and black, the inclusive kaleidoscope of new logos was the visual accompaniment of the newly branded name, “The Y”. Historically The Y always had the nickname but it became official in an intentional effort to be more inclusive and welcoming to all.

The local Y associations work with the National governing organization to support diverse and inclusive staff and volunteer teams. YMCA of the USA’s Executive Leadership Staff team is composed of eight women and four men and the National Board of Directors is 45% female.

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