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

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

4.0 2
by Lynn Povich
 

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The inspiration for the new Amazon Original Pilot

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

Overview


The inspiration for the new Amazon Original Pilot

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

Publishers Weekly
Feminist history at its best, Povich evokes, with clear-eyed affection and a keen sense of history the heady atmosphere of “Swinging Sixties”-era Newsweek: a real-life Mad Men with a social conscience and sense of mission. In 1970, when Newsweek’s editors, who prided themselves on their progressive views (pro–civil rights, anti–Vietnam War), determined that the women’s movement merited a cover story, it didn’t occur to them that Newsweek’s caste system, which relegated women to dead-end jobs as researchers. was a civil rights violation. An unpleasant surprise awaited them when, on June 16, 1970—the same day Newsweek’s “Women in Revolt” issue hit the newsstands—46 female Newsweek employees, Povich among them, filed an EEOC complaint charging Newsweek with systematic discrimination in hiring and promotion. The transformation of Povich—who subsequently became Newsweek’s first female senior editor—and her colleagues from polite, deferential girls to women of courage forms the heart of this lively, engaging book. Their successful lawsuit paved the way for similar suits at the New York Times, NBC, and others, expanding opportunities for women journalists while underscoring how attitudes are often more resistant to change than laws. Forty years later, women are discovering for themselves that the fight for equal rights is not over. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

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.”
 
Kirkus
“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.”

Macleans

“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.”

Washingtonian“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.”

Library Journal
Social and business history meet in Povich's personal account of the discrimination complaint filed against Newsweek by 46 of its female employees in 1970. One of that group's organizers, Povich, who went on to become the first woman senior editor in Newsweek's history, and describes the freewheeling office culture of 1960s-era Newsweek. She relates her efforts to judge who might be friendly to their cause, organize the female employees secretly, and find legal representation to help win concessions from the magazine's editors and management. The eventual lawsuit cited sexual harassment and lack of advancement opportunities for female employees (many of whom had the same education and qualifications as their male counterparts), and its success paved the way for other women (particularly in the media) to "revolt." VERDICT Povich sometimes overstates the suit's historic importance, but her storytelling is compelling and she ably makes the case for the debt still owed to all 46 Newsweek women for their willingness to "take off the white gloves." Quickly paced social history for media, feminism, and history buffs.—Sarah Statz Cords, Reader's Advisor Online, Middleton, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Firsthand account of the female Newsweek employees who sued their employer in 1970 for sex discrimination. Journalist Povich began her career in the mid-'60s at the magazine's Paris bureau as a secretary, photo researcher, telex operator and occasional reporter. In 1975, she became the first female senior editor in the magazine's history. Here, she chronicles the five-year legal battle that she and the women of Newsweek waged against the company, laying the groundwork for women's advancement at the publication and in other careers in the areas of journalism, law and society. The Newsweek case was also the first female class-action suit filed in the United States. The women were a cohort of educated well-mannered "good girls" of the '40s and '50s, raised to be apolitical and accept the status quo in the workplace and society. But Povich and her co-workers found themselves stymied professionally and personally by the male-dominated work environment at Newsweek. Today it may be difficult to comprehend, but when the case was filed, there were few professional women in the United States. "Until around 1970," writes Povich, "women comprised fewer than 10 percent of students in medical school, 4 percent of law school students, and only 3 percent of business school students." The author describes the women's initial trepidation, followed by a feeling of empowerment. By standing up for what they believed they were entitled to, some flourished while others fell prey to a hostile work environment. As one of the plaintiffs said, "A lot of women were prepared socially and emotionally for it, but for those of us who were traditional women, you couldn't switch off overnight just because we won a lawsuit." Povich's in-depth research, narrative skills and eyewitness observations provide an entertaining and edifying look at a pivotal event in women's history.
The New York Times
The personal and the political are deftly interwoven in the fast-moving narrative by Ms. Povich…The Good Girls Revolt has many timely lessons for working women who are concerned about discrimination today, and for the companies that employ them. Feminism is an incomplete revolution that has yet to reach its goals. But this sparkling, informative book may help move these goals a tiny bit closer.
—Anne Eisenberg

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610391733
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
09/10/2012
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Povich is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than 40 years in the news business. She began her career at Newsweek as a secretary. In 1970, she was one of 46 women who sued Newsweek for sex discrimination. Five years later, Povich was appointed the first woman Senior Editor in the magazine’s history. Povich left Newsweek in 1991 to become Editor-in-Chief of Working Woman magazine, the only national business magazine for women. She joined MSNBC.Com in 1996 to help launch the 24-hour news and information cable/internet venture, overseeing the web content of NBC News as well as MSNBC Cable.

Povich has received numerous honors, including a 1976 Matrix Award from Women in Communications for Exceptional Achievement in Magazines. In 2005, she edited a book on her father, famed Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich, called All Those Mornings…At the Post. A native of Washington, D.C., Povich graduated from Vassar College, where she served as Executive-in-Residence in 1996. She is 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. They have two children

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The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
NewsieQ More than 1 year ago
The gender discrimination at Newsweek magazine in the 1950s and 1960s was blatant. Men with college degrees from Ivy League colleges worked as writers, reporters and editors. Women with the same credentials were, for the most part, relegated to the ghetto of research and fact-checking. Period. The story of how the “good girls” of Newsweek changed that in the 1970s is related by one of the women in that suit. The attitudes of the men of Newsweek seem in some ways almost quaint. And they justified discrimination as part of the “tradition” of the magazine field. Lynn Povich’s story is more memoir than journalism history and that is not meant as a criticism. She relates the fear that accompanied talk of a lawsuit and how the women came together to face their powerful bosses – including publisher Katharine Graham. And it should come as no surprise that many of the woman who were discriminated against back then rose to the top of the journalism field, some to become household names. Others were not so lucky. Fascinating story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago