The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplaceby Lynn Povich
Lynn Povich was one of the lucky ones, landing a job at Newsweek, renowned for its cutting-edge coverage of civil rights/i>
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.
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.”
"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."
“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.”
“Solidly researched and should interest readers who care about feminist history and how gender issues play out in the culture.”
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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 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!