The Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT), based in Washington, DC, works to promote the professional development of women in international trade and business and to raise public awareness of the importance of international trade to economic development. WIIT does this through:
- Professional development opportunities;
- Educational offerings; and
- Social activities for professional networking.
Mission StatementWIIT’s mission is to promote the professional advancement of women in international trade and business and to raise public awareness of the importance of international trade to economic development.
WIIT has earned its strong reputation on a variety of fronts:
- A range of programs designed to advance members’ professional growth. These include “how-to” events on honing job skills, a mentoring program, a job bank, and numerous networking events. Because it is a volunteer-run organization, WIIT also offers members valuable leadership opportunities through service on its management team and Board of Directors.
- Frequent briefings led by distinguished officials on current trade topics and trends. WIIT puts its members in touch with the policymakers and business leaders shaping international business.
- A vibrant blog that serves as a channel for members who wish to contribute articles on their areas of expertise.
- Support for the Washington trade community and initiatives to broaden public awareness of the international trade through the WIIT Charitable Trust.
HistoryWIIT was founded in 1987. The very first meeting to discuss its founding was attended by about 20 women. At the time, it definitely felt like there was a “glass ceiling,” so we wanted to talk about how we could create our own network.
Our concept was to try to help women professionally as well as personally. The initial group included women who worked on the Hill, in the administration, and at embassies; attorneys; and company and association professionals.
We started out talking about this new idea and how we might be able to create an informal network called Women in International Trade. Then one of the late arrivals, a West Coast-based attorney, told us that this was not really a new idea — there was a group called Women in Trade in LA! That helped to cement our resolve and reinforced that we were on the right track. At that point we all were volunteering our time, so the attorneys helped with our articles of incorporation, and the rest of us shared our Rolodexes (no email yet!) and started contacting our friends and colleagues to start this new organization.
Robin Lanier (WIIT President 1990-1991) and I had the pleasure of opening the first bank account — and deposited our own two checks to get things started. After that very first meeting we never had a moment’s hesitation that this was the right organization to attract all types of women who are working in trade policy. And right after starting WIIT, we reached out to the similar organizations on the West Coast and in Chicago to start OWIT.
Co-Founder and first President of WIIT (1987-1989)