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The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace [Kindle Edition]

Lynn Povich
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It was the 1960s––a time of economic boom and social strife. Young women poured into the workplace, but the “Help Wanted” ads were segregated by gender and the “Mad Men” office culture was rife with sexual stereotyping and discrimination.

Lynn Povich was one of the lucky ones, landing a job at Newsweek, renowned for its cutting-edge coverage of civil rights and the “Swinging Sixties.” Nora Ephron, Jane Bryant Quinn, Ellen Goodman, and Susan Brownmiller all started there as well. It was a top-notch job––for a girl––at an exciting place.

But it was a dead end. Women researchers sometimes became reporters, rarely writers, and never editors. Any aspiring female journalist was told, “If you want to be a writer, go somewhere else.”

On March 16, 1970, the day Newsweek published a cover story on the fledgling feminist movement entitled “Women in Revolt,” forty-six Newsweek women charged the magazine with discrimination in hiring and promotion.  It was the first female class action lawsuit––the first by women journalists––and it inspired other women in the media to quickly follow suit.

Lynn Povich was one of the ringleaders. In The Good Girls Revolt, she evocatively tells the story of this dramatic turning point through the lives of several participants. With warmth, humor, and perspective, she shows how personal experiences and cultural shifts led a group of well-mannered, largely apolitical women, raised in the 1940s and 1950s, to challenge their bosses––and what happened after they did. For many, filing the suit was a radicalizing act that empowered them to “find themselves” and fight back. Others lost their way amid opportunities, pressures, discouragements, and hostilities they weren’t prepared to navigate.  

The Good Girls Revolt also explores why changes in the law didn’t solve everything. Through the lives of young female journalists at Newsweek today, Lynn Povich shows what has––and hasn’t––changed in the workplace.

Editorial Reviews


Gloria Steinem
"The Good Girls Revolt is as compelling as any novel, and also an accurate, intimate history of new women journalists invading the male journalistic world of the 1970s. Lynn Povich turns this epic revolt into a lesson on why and how we've just begun."

Jeannette Walls
“A meticulously reported and highly readable account of a pivotal time in the women’s movement.”
“Povich’s in-depth research, narrative skills and eyewitness observations provide an entertaining and edifying look at a pivotal event in women’s history.”

New York Times
“The personal and the political are deftly interwoven in the fast-moving narrative…. The Good Girls Revolt has many timely lessons for working women who are concerned about discrimination today….But this sparkling, informative book may help move these goals a tiny bit closer.”

Boston Globe
“Solidly researched and should interest readers who care about feminist history and how gender issues play out in the culture.”

“Povich’s memoir of the tortuous, landmark battle that paved the way for a generation of female writers and editors is illuminating in its details [and] casts valuable perspective on a trail-blazing case that shouldn’t be forgotten.”

American Journalism Review
“[Povich] strikes a fair tone, neither naïve nor sanctimonious.... Among her achievements is a complex portrait of Newsweek Editor Osborn Elliott and his path from defensive adversary to understanding ally.”

Liesl Schillinger, New York Times
“Women still have a long way to go, the journalist Lynn Povich rousingly reminds readers in The Good Girls Revolt, her fascinating (and long overdue) history of the class-action lawsuit undertaken by four dozen female researchers and underlings at Newsweek magazine four decades ago…. If ever a book could remind women to keep their white gloves off and to keep fighting the good fight, this is the one.”

“Crisp, revealing…. [A] taut, firsthand account of how a group of razor-sharp, courageous women successfully fought back against institutional sexism at one of the country’s most esteemed publications.”

Philadelphia Inquirer
“With vivid recollections of the author and major and minor participants, Povich, a party to the suit, succeeds in making recent history enraging, poignant, and even sexy.”

About the Author

Lynn Povich began her career at Newsweek as a secretary. In 1975 she became the first woman senior editor in the magazine’s history. Since leaving Newsweek in 1991, Povich has been editor-in-chief of Working Woman magazine and managing editor/senior executive producer for MSNBC.Com. Winner of the prestigious Matrix Award, Povich edited a book of columns by her father, famed Washington Post sports journalist Shirley Povich. She is married to Stephen Shepard, former editor-in-chief of Business Week and founding dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. They have two children.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1483 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 161039173X
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (September 10, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,709 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
When the Newsweek editors decided to write a cover story about feminism in March 1970, it was a hot topic, just the sort of current events coverage that the news magazine was known for. The day the issue hit the stands, a group of women who worked at Newsweek filed a civil rights suit against the magazine. Newsweek was being sued for gender discrimination.

Lynn Povich, one of the few women writers at Newsweek at the time, was one of forty-six women filing the suit, and she has gathered the documents and interviewed many of the people involved, on both sides, to ensure that the story isn't forgotten. The resulting book left me feeling both exhilarated at the progress they made in 1970 and beyond, and dismayed at the lost ground that will have to be fought over yet again.

The case was almost laughably open and shut, from a legal standpoint. Women with Ivy League degrees were hired at Newsweek as secretaries or researchers, and rarely rose above that. Men with similar degrees were hired as writers and went on to become correspondents and editors. Women who tried to become writers were discouraged or simply passed over. The few who did become writers were paid lower wages than men at the same level.

But the system was so entrenched that most of the women were reluctant to stir the pot. They were good girls.

While some of the management at Newsweek were surprised that the women won the suit, they shouldn't have been. On the other hand, it probably shouldn't have been a big surprise to the women that two years after having won the case, there were even fewer women writers and editors at Newsweek than before. They had to sue again.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for women in the workplace September 17, 2012
My sons like to tease me and call me a feminist (yeah, they don't get it), a badge I proudly wear, so I was surprised that I knew nothing about the revolt by the women working at Newsweek magazine, who in 1970 brought a complaint to the EEOC against the magazine charging discrimination against them in hiring and promotion practices.

Lynn Povich, a writer who worked at Newsweek and was part of the suit, brings the story to life in The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women at Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. The women were employed at the magazine as researchers, but were never promoted to writer or editor, even though they had similar education and experience as the men hired as researchers and quickly promoted to writer and editor.

Nora Ephron, who worked at the magazine, described the "caste system"
"For every man there was an inferior woman, for every writer there was a checker", said Nora Ephron. "They were the artists and we were the drones. But what is interesting is how institutionally sexist it was without necessarily being personally sexist. To me, it wasn't oppressive. They were going to try to sleep with you- and if you wanted to, you could. But no one was going to fire you for not sleeping with them."
Mad Men's Madison Avenue offices weren't the only places where sex and booze ruled the workplace.

Povich is an excellent writer, and parts of this book, especially where the women were secretly meeting and trying to recruit other women to join the suit, read like a tense spy novel. Will they get caught?

They hired a young and pregnant Eleanor Holmes Norton to represent them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So much progress, so much still to achieve. September 9, 2012
By Cynthia
I had the oddest feeling while reading this book that time both stands still even as it flees by. Povich starts the book with a vignette of three young professional women and their plight of career stagnation due to discrimination. Then she describes the stories of some of the principal complainants in the 1970 class action suit brought against `Newsweek' for sex discrimination. Povich outlines not just their professional stories but also some of their relevant personal history including their outlooks on life, their career goals, and their unique personalities. This makes the story personal and the reader can't help but root for their triumph. It seems so ludicrous from this distance to realize a lot of these women had Ivy league educations yet were stuck in the mail or research rooms of `Newsweek'. What a waste of an education, drive, and talent. They did win the suit but sadly, they had to continue to fight for what they'd supposedly won through the courts. An entrenched social system doesn't change overnight. Also, not everyone longs to be at the top, many are content with fulfilling jobs that allow time for a family life. The downside to the situation is the women who'd been exiled to fact checking for the male writers sometimes didn't aspire to be writers but felt compelled to try out for that slot after the suit and if they succeeded in becoming a writer they felt obligated to write `hard' news rather than arts and culture articles regardless of their interests. Worst of all few of the women who lodged the suit benefited personally from it. It was the women who came after them who were able to take advantage of the opportunities these women made possible. Povich walks us through the decades post-suit and what that meant for women. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good book for women.
Published 2 months ago by Dave Davidson
3.0 out of 5 stars good story, but not well written
Too much he said she said
Expected a better written account give the author is a journalist
Nevertheless an interesting story
Published 6 months ago by Jenny Sutton
5.0 out of 5 stars Real good (and accurate) read.
My mother who is 95 was so glad this title caught her eye. Took her back in time.
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars How Feminism Helped the Women of Newsweek
This book is as inspiring today as it was when word first got out that the women of Newsweek were going to sue their employer. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Cecilia M. Fernandez
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy read about a brave group of "good girls" who challenged the...
Lynn Povich and her colleagues were all well educated (Ivy League/Seven Sisters) who took on the big boys club of news publishing. Read more
Published 13 months ago by swagcass
4.0 out of 5 stars Good News for all of us!
I was glad to have finally read this amazing story, as I worked at the magazine
not long after it happened and it was never discussed on the ad side where I worked. Read more
Published 17 months ago by diane
5.0 out of 5 stars A history of women working at Newsweek
This has a great feminist perspective. I found this book easy to read and very interesting about how the workplace was for women in the 60's.
Published 17 months ago by Orange
3.0 out of 5 stars Mad Women in the era of Mad Men
I lived that same life, except at TIME rather than Newsweek, so I was very interested in reading this.Frankly, it did not deserve to be a book. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Wendy Sherman
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful history lesson all women should read
I was 20 in 1970 when these courageous women took on correcting a wrong. Thank you for this wonderful book with all the details that reminded me of those times and that there are... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Theresa Pawloski
3.0 out of 5 stars Good historical account but...not much more!
Read this for book club. No one thought the book lived up to its subject, but it provoked a great conversation about women's issues then and now.
Published 24 months ago by Sandra K. Hayes
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More About the Author

When I graduated from college, I was lucky to get a job as a secretary in the Paris bureau of Newsweek magazine. I returned to New York after a year-and-a-half and in 1970, I was one of 46 women who sued Newsweek for sex discrimination. Five years later, I was appointed the first woman Senior Editor in the magazine's history.
My book about that landmark lawsuit, THE GOOD GIRLS REVOLT,was published September 10, 2012 by PublicAffairs.
In 1991, I left Newsweek to become Editor-in-Chief of Working Woman magazine. I joined MSNBC.Com in 1996, overseeing the web content of NBC News and MSNBC Cable.
In 2005, I edited a book of columns by my father,famed Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich, called ALL THOSE MORNINGS...AT THE POST.
I have been honored with the prestigious Matrix Award for Exceptional Achievement in Magazines and the Exceptional Woman in Publishing Award from Women in Periodical Publishing
I was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Vassar College, where I served as Executive-in-Residence. I am married to Stephen B. Shepard, former Editor-in-Chief of Business Week and Founding Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism of the City University of New York. His book, DEADLINES AND DISRUPTION, was published the same week in September as mine. We have two children.

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