Sonia Pressman Fuentes, the first female attorney in the office of the general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, helped extend the Civil Rights Act’s protections of equal opportunity to all people regardless of gender. First in her class at University of Miami School of Law, Fuentes joined the EEOC in October 1965, three months after it had begun operations to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited employment discrimination. Fuentes drafted one of the EEOC’s early landmark decisions, finding US airlines violated Title VII when they terminated or grounded stewardesses for their age and marital status. She also drafted the EEOC’s first regulations on pregnancy and childbirth. Tired of resistance from colleagues to issues of women’s rights, Fuentes told Betty Friedan that women needed an organization that would fight for them the way the NAACP fought for African Americans. Fuentes then joined Friedan and 47 others to found NOW, fighting to expand opportunities for women under Title VII. Fuentes was also a co-founder of the Women’s Equity Action League and Federally Employed Women and was a charter member of the Veteran Feminists of America. In 1999 she published her memoir, Eat First—You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You: The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Sonia Pressman Fuentes." (Viewed on January 22, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/fuentes-sonia-pressman>.