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BPW History Film

The Business and Professional Women’s Organization – A History, A Movement™

BPW History Film  |  Screen The Movie

BPW historical film

Ashley Maria traveled to her home state of North Carolina, USA to produce and direct a story about the Business and Professional Women (BPW) organization. The film is a short documentary (22 min) that tells the progressive history of BPW and their members who have impacted the lives of working women – yesterday and today.

We at BPW have a goal to motivate and educate; promoting the welfare of all women in the workplace. This film is inspiring – and a must-see for women of all ages to experience!
— Mimi Zelman, BPW/NC President

YOU CAN SCREEN THE FILM! Share the stories of women who have advocated for working women, fought to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, joined BPW for their own professional support and training. Visit the Screen the Movie page for details.

TeaTimeChatBPW’s history and beyond

BPW was founded in 1919 with a mission to advocate for and promote the professional and personal growth of women in the workplace.

An American historical film, BPWs around the globe screen this film at their conferences, events, new member orientations, etc. The film features longtime BPW members who sat down for a “tea-time circle” chat about the struggles and triumphs of the organization.

You’ll see historical images dating back to 1917, and learn about the traditions of the Business and Professional Women’s organization, the oldest working women’s advocacy group in the world.

Featured in the film:

  • The reason why women were organized in 1917, and then how it became “BPW” in 1919
  • When the Nike and the Red Purse became a symbols for BPW
  • A discussion between longtime members. Though an American story, the discussion highlights the need for continued advocacy globally.
  • The battle for the Equal Rights Amendment
  • The benefits of membership with BPW
  • The future for BPW – an appreciation for what has been done, and looking ahead at what still needs to be done
  • The collect, the BPW emblem benediction sung to the tune of Blest Be the Tie that Binds
Why do BPW’s around the world screen the film?

Directed, produced and narrated by a young BPW member, BPW’s all over the world show the film to not only educate and inspire, but also to lead a positive discussion about working women, what it takes to empower them to fully realize their potential in their careers, and achieve equity in the workplace. —more about why and how to screen the film

Women Supporting Women: The Producers are making a follow-on full feature documentary about advancing the next generation of working women called: Pioneers in Skirts​. We use donations from the BPW film to help fund the making of this one-of-a-kind documentary film.

BPW international logoNot in the film: the story of how BPW International was formed

In 1928 and 1929, the BPW/USA Goodwill Tours of Europe initiated the founding of what’s now called BPW International. BPW/USA President Dr. Lena Madison Phillips led the effort to found the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW) in Geneva, Switzerland on August 26, 1930. The founding member countries were Austria, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy and the United States of America. Dr. Phillips was elected as the first IFBPW President and served until 1947.

Today, BPW International has become one of the most influential international networks of business and professional women with affiliates in 95 countries in five continents.


Meet the Production Team

A large number of volunteers and contributors make up the crew of The Business and Professional Women: A History, A Movement. This project would not have been possible without their hard work, dedication to accurate research, and an extreme passion to have this historical story told.

Ashley Maria – Director/Producer/Editor

Meet Ashley MariaAshley Maria is a North Carolina native and graduate from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts; graduating in 2012 with her Masters in Fine Arts. With over 10 years of experience in film and television production ranging from television commercials to multi-platform integration to full feature films, Ashley is currently working on her first feature documentary: Pioneers in Skirts.

Her past films have won awards at highly acclaimed film festivals around the world, including her first student film, Friday Night Fright, winning her a Directors Guild of America Award!

Ashley is a proud member-at-large of the North Carolina Business & Professional Women’s Clubs and was awarded their Elsie G. Riddick scholarship for her work in advancing women in film.


Lea-Ann W. Berst – Producer/Writer

Lea-Ann Berst Lea-Ann W. Berst is a business owner; leading outsourced project efforts at Sleddogg Marketing Management. Lea-Ann supports and promotes a future of education and mentorship for all.

Knowing the importance of having this historical story told, she jumped on board to lead the writing and producing efforts for the film. Lea-Ann is also a proud member of North Carolina Business & Professional Women’s Clubs.


Pablo Vega – Composer

Pablo Vega is a composer and sound engineer from Durham, North Carolina. He attended UNC Chapel Hill with our director, Ashley Maria; graduating with a degree in Music Composition. He has since received his Specialist Certificate in audio engineering from Berklee College of Music.

He is the composer and lead sound designer for the video game company “Arcen Games”. While working for Arcen, he has scored the music for eight released games, and is currently working on the ninth and tenth.

Pablo is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) as well as the Audio Engineering Society (AES). He hopes to continue his career scoring video games and film, and is very excited to be a part of this film!

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