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

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 11, 2012
    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.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2012
    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.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2012

    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

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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