Imagine a time when you couldn’t advance in the workplace because you are a woman. Imagine watching male coworkers get paid to do work that you could do better. And imagine standing up to this injustice and fighting for equal rights. Lynn Povich and her female coworkers at Newsweek did just that in 1970.
Povich came to inspire the women at OK State this past Friday.
She spoke about her career, her experiences with gender discrimination and her book, “The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace.”
Povich’s journalism career started at Newsweek Magazine. She was the secretary of the Paris bureau. She said while working at Newsweek she experienced and witnessed extreme cases of sex discrimination. Female employees were confined to the tasks of sorting mail and fact checking articles, while men served in the higher positions such as, reporters and editors.
After years of dealing with this discrimination, Povich and 45 female coworkers decided to sue their bosses in hopes of improving the workplace.
“Women coming together as a group is far more powerful than anything one woman could do,” Povich said.
This was the first time women in the media industry had filed a lawsuit. The women of Newsweek’s case sparked interest throughout the country. They inspired the women of Fortune, Time and Sports Illustrated to file their own lawsuits three months later.
Although, the women of Newsweek won their case, little was done to improve the status of female employees. So, a second lawsuit was filed. And the women went on to win the second lawsuit, too. Povich was promoted to become the first woman Senior Editor in Newsweek History.
In addition to speaking about her experience with gender discrimination in the past, Povich also discussed the changes that still need to be made.
“Although, women have more opportunity for career advancement than they have in the past, only 4 percent of Fortune 500 company CEOs are women, only 18 percent of congress is made up of women, only 18 percent of executive jobs are held by women and only 28 percent of full professors are women,” Povich said.
Povich gave inspiring advice to the women in the audience to fight for equality. She encouraged women to take small steps toward success, such as sitting in the middle of a meeting table, raising their hands, contributing ideas and not apologizing when they’ve done nothing wrong. She said women’s voices are still not heard as loud as men’s. It is our responsibility to change that.
Before ending her lecture, she left the audience with an inspirational statement.
“Every success that a woman has will have an effect on other women,” Povich said.