Calling women and girls to claim their place in chess

In the past, playing chess has been predominantly a man’s world. We’re pretty sure that says more about the past world than it does about chess. That was then.

In 2016, US Chess established the Women In Chess Initiative to proactively invite females into the game. Some examples of our progress to date are on the facing page.

Chess is beneficial for girls and women for all the reasons it’s beneficial for boys and men. It’s valuable as a gateway to STEM fields and as a model for life skills. It fosters focus, critical thinking, self-confidence, and the importance of hard work.

We’re looking forward to the day when women fully claim their place in the game and know that all the benefits of chess are theirs for the taking.

Progress to date in advancing the cause of Women’s Chess:

  • Female membership in US Chess has increased to 13,000—up 70% since 2009. Still, only 14% of the membership is female, so we are working diligently to welcome more girls and women.
  • US Chess Women received a $225,000 in gifts from the Saint Louis Chess Club, which are being used for the US Chess Women’s Grant program, which has awarded 32 grants to non profits across the country. We also use the funds to support our girls clubs, and for top player grants. 
  • Girls Club rooms have been established at US Chess scholastic national events and other regional events, and we host a booming online girls community. We also have a cross-cultural program, which brings girls from Kenya and the USA together, to study and play chess, while also learning about culture, language and history. Highlights from our top lessons are featured on a YouTube playlist, so players of all genders and ages can learn from the best. 
  • We created the Women in Chess page on our site as a source for news and opportunities for females in US Chess. (Visit
  • Girls’ and Women’s events have increased awareness of chess opportunities.
  • We’ve received great press. In recent years, Sports Illustrated, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New Yorker ran features about women and girls in chess, all specifically highlighting US Chess Women's efforts to even the playing field. 
  • We created Ladies Knight, an award-winning podcast hosted by US Chess Women’s Program Director Jennifer Shahade.

A donation of any size will help us continue the momentum to make chess more accessible to girls, women and gender minorities.