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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Good Girl's Revolt by Lynn Povich

Lynn Povich's boss told her that when he arrived at Newsweek, he was told that the best part of the job is sleeping with the researchers.  Even though this was the 1970's and women journalists had been working for newspapers and magazines for at least a century, women were treated as 'underlings' at Newsweek.  It was almost impossible for researchers to become serious writers or editors at the magazine even though they were just as highly qualified as the men.  One woman was even told to get a job somewhere else if she wanted to become a writer! Most women who wanted to be journalists had to put up with being hired as researchers - some of this work was apparently extremely boring.

When some of the women discussed this and found out that it was against the law, they decided to meet in secret and organise a law suit.  This became the first class action by women in America.  The women were brought up to be 'good girl's and put up with this kind of discrimination.  These courageous young women had a huge battle on their hands - it would take five years for them to win. They not only fought a law suit; they also had to fight to find themselves and obtain the confidence which they needed to become successful journalists.

This is a great Mad Men - like story about what life was like for women who worked for magazines at this time in America.  It's also a social history about the attitudes of men to 'career women' and the early days of the fight for women's liberation.

Lynn Povich writes the story in a factual, but intimate and chatty way. She includes a lot of detail about her own background and life. (I especially liked the story of her romance). This made the book more interesting.  In fact, this would make a wonderful TV series.  I suggest that someone starts working on it soon!

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