In 1998, the Executive Council established an ad hoc committee to look into the
issue of gender equity in the Society. Although HFES was largely male dominated in its early years, the percentage of women in the Society has grown over time. However, there was concern on the part of a number of senior women that the Society was not as supportive of the development and recognition of women as it could or should be. As a result, the Women’s Issues Task Force was formed. The members appointed to this committee are Deborah A. Boehm-Davis,
(cochair), Mary Carol Day (cochair), John F. Kelley, Christine Mitchell, Thomas Sheridan, and Earl Wiener.
The committee made the initial assumption that there was no reason to expect that the percentage of women found in a particular position in the Society (e.g., Fellow, officer) would be different from the percentage of eligible women in the Society in the period being investigated. Based on this assumption, the committee decided to investigate whether women were proportionally represented in key HFES activities – specifically, in elected and appointed positions of leadership and in the honorary position of Fellow. This included determining the percentage of male and female members and Fellows and the percentage of women represented as Executive Council members, standing committee chairs, technical group chairs, chapter officers, and reviewers on
the journal’s editorial board.