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"Equality is never given, it is taken." -- Jane Bryant Quinn,
This review is from: The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace (Hardcover)
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.
Povich quotes Jane Bryant Quinn (who worked at Newsweek, but not at the time of the lawsuits) as saying "Equality is never given, it is taken."
The book opens and closes with the plight of several women working for Newsweek today who are astonished to find themselves facing obstacles such as the ones that were supposed to have been overcome forty years ago. They were unaware of the events of forty years ago. The Good Girls Revolt may have to be waged yet again.