Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
In the 1960s, Lynn Povich worked at Newsweek — where she became part of revolution.
women were hired on the mail desk to deliver mail, then to clip
newspapers, and if they were lucky, became researchers or fact
checkers," Povich tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer, whom she knows
personally. "All of the writers and reporters were men, and everyone
accepted it as, that was the way the world was — until we didn't."
Povich's new book, The Good Girls Revolt,
tells the story of how the women sued their bosses and changed the
workplace. The first spark that set off the rebellion was in 1969 — five
years after the Civil Rights Act made gender discrimination illegal.
was only as the women's movement started gaining steam that it suddenly
dawned on us that, oops, there's something wrong with this picture here
— that this movement doesn't just apply to those women, it applies to
us, and we have to do something about it," Povich says. "And it's
So the women sued — twice. The
first time, they failed, according to Povich. Then they decided to hire
Eleanor Holmes Norton, who had become the human rights commissioner for
the city of New York, and Harriet Rabb, a young lawyer at Columbia who
was running an employment-rights seminar.
put across goals and timetables. The women asked for a third of the
reporters and a third of the writers to be women, and a third of the
researchers to be men. They aimed to integrate the category to show that
researcher was not a just a woman's job — it was an entry-level job for
anyone with those skills, Povich says.
final demand was that there be a woman senior editor. And they balked at
this because it was management — we can't tell them who to put in
management," she says. "And we just said, 'We're not signing an
agreement where there's not a woman in the meetings where all the
decisions are being made.' And they promised to have a woman senior
editor by the end of 1975."
The women gave the men two years to find a woman they could have in their management meetings.
"I was told they approached Gloria Steinem, who by that time was editing her own magazine, Ms.," Povich says. "And I don't think she would have wanted to be a senior editor at Newsweek at the time. And she said to me, 'They probably came to me because I was like Jose Greco, the only Spanish dancer they knew.' "
Christian Steiner/PublicAffairs Lynn Povich was appointed the first female senior editor of Newsweek, five years after the lawsuit chronicled in The Good Girls Revolt, in which she participated.
On why the women took the menial jobs
were so happy to be working in an interesting place ... surrounded and
talking about the news of the day. The world of the '60s still had
classified ads that were segregated, 'Help Wanted — Male' and 'Help
Wanted — Female.' And most of the female occupations were nurses,
teachers, secretaries and jobs of that sort."
I think that, as one of the men said, we were all blind. I mean, the
men accepted this system, and those of us who stayed at Newsweek accepted this system."
On the 'Rosa Parks' of the Newsweek movement
woman who started the [movement] — what I call our Rosa Parks of our
little movement — was a woman named Judy Gingold, who was a Marshall
scholar in Oxford, came back, could not find a job and ended up being a
researcher at Newsweek, fact-checking people. And, she was having a conversation with a friend who was a lawyer, describing the situation at Newsweek,
and the woman said, 'You know that's illegal.' And she had no idea. And
she said, 'Well, I don't think the men know it's illegal.' And [the
lawyer] said, 'Well, call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.'
And the woman said to her, 'Yes, it's illegal.' And Judy said, 'Well, I
think we have to tell the men.' And the woman said, 'Are you crazy?
People don't want to give up power. If you tell them about it, they will
promote two women, co-opt all of you, and it will be over. Your case is
so clear cut, you've got to do something.' And so now Judy had a moral
issue — this was illegal, something wrong was happening — and so she
came back and started organizing us."
On recruiting in the ladies' room
would sort of look under to see who was in the ladies' room, look under
the stalls, and then we'd approach someone at the sink, and say, you
know, 'Ugh, I've got to check this story by so-and-so,' and, 'God, I
could write it better than he does,' and if the woman seemed to respond,
then you'd say something like, 'Well, we're thinking about doing
something about changing this system. Are you interested?' And one by
one, we reeled people in."
On how times haven't changed
"It surprised me when I met these young women at Newsweek
today, because, you know, they were all supercompetent, been told since
they were kids that they could do anything, and yet, when they got into
the work world, after a year or two, they were suddenly feeling
marginalized — that guys seemed to be getting better assignments, and
young guys with equal qualifications or even less were somehow being
promoted faster than they were. And they couldn't understand why,
because this was post-feminism, the sex wars were over, we were all
equal now. So it couldn't be that thing called discrimination; it must
be them. They just must not be talented enough to move ahead.
I think it's more difficult for young women now, because it has the air
of equality, but when you look under the surface, of course, there
[are] still hostile work environments; there's still not equal pay for
women. So, there's no longer the blatant categories and castes for
women, but yes, I also think that, with women's issues currently on the
front burner in this political system, many of us indeed thought these
rights were secure that we had won, and yet you see how threatened they
are, both in the work world and with reproductive rights and violence
against women. I mean, vigilance is necessary."