The Women’s Forum had its beginnings as an informal brown-bag lunch meeting of a group of women who used to get together in the Levering Hall Conference Room. The women at these meetings began to discuss how the needs of women at the University were not being recognized and compare experiences. This group of women decided to appeal to the administration for change. The University Administration dismissed them as being a radical group and their demands were not met. By mid-1980 the University administration conducted an official survey on the Human Climate of the Homewood Campus. The survey revealed that equal opportunities for advancement, equal pay, and fair treatment were lacking. However, still the administration failed to act and no changes occurred.
Determined that change must occur, this group of women organized a luncheon on the Homewood campus on April 10, 1987 and invited all faculty and senior staff to attend. Those present unanimously expressed interest in meeting as a group in the near future. The Women’s Forum officially began with the first meeting of the advisory board on October 10, 1987. Realizing that administrative support was vital, the Forum appealed to the Provost’s Office. The Provost accepted their initial proposal, resulting in the Provost’s Report on the Status of Women. Equal salary, recruitment, promotions, security, facilities, and representation have all been, and continue to be, addressed and improved upon. The Women’s Forum describes itself in its mission statement as being, “an advocacy organization established to improve the status of women, and thereby the human climate, in all divisions of the university. The Forum also seeks to facilitate communications among Hopkins women and to support and foster their professional development through education, social, and cultural programs and activities.” Some past chairs of the Women’s Forum are B.J. Norris, Catherine Evans, Barbara Northrop, Julie Morgan, and Pam Cranston. By 1997 the Women’s Forum had more than 1,400 members from University staff, faculty, and students and maintained caucuses for Homewood/Peabody, Applied Physics Laboratory, School of Advanced International Studies, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, and Johns Hopkins Bayview. After 1997 the Forum underwent a change, abandoning its mission of advocacy in favor of a program emphasizing networking and career development. With the change in mission came a name change and the Women’s Forum became the Women’s Network.