In the recent TV series Good Girls Revolt, a group of young female journalists (Anna Camp, Genevieve Angelson and Erin Darke) face adversity as they strive to fight gender discrimination in the workplace.
In this week’s issue, the real women who’s fight for equality inspired the show, open up about the landmark sex discrimination case that would be the start to a revolutionary movement.
“I started in the mail room at $56 a week, and I was told I could work from mail girl to research, which was a ‘really good job for a woman,’ ” Patricia Lynden, a former Newsweek researcher, recalls. “There was sexism, but I didn’t notice it. It was the natural order of things. It was just the way things were back then.”
As Lynden, now 79, along with her former Newsweek colleagues Mary Pleshette Willis, 70, Lucy Howard, 76, and Lynn Povich, 73, slowly began to realize they were not getting the promotions they deserved, the urge for justice grew stronger.
“When I heard that it was actually illegal to pass us over for promotions and withhold opportunities, I realized this shouldn’t be the way it is,” says Povich, who wrote a book on the case, The Good Girls Revolt, which has been adapted into a TV series currently streaming on Amazon.
As the women of Newsweek began to gather and hash out their plans to sue their bosses, word got out that their editors had decided to publish a cover on the women’s liberation movement entitled “Women in Revolt.”
The same day that issue was released, 46 female Newsweek employees held a press conference to announce their lawsuit.
After all was said and done, the women continued to face adversities.
“There were guys who were very much against us,” says Povich, who eventually went on to become the first female senior editor at the magazine. “The first three women who tried out as writers after we filed these charges all failed their tryouts. There were people who just did not want women to succeed.”
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Forty-six years later, the women are watching their experience unfold onscreen.
“I’m proud,” Povich says of the show. “I really wanted young women to know our story.”
Though Amazon has recently decided to cancel one of it’s best-reviewed dramas, the ladies are happy with the message that it brings.
“I hope that this show will encourage women to be who they are and work very hard to get what their talents tell them they should have,” says Lynden. “When we finally organized, that gave us a real sense of strength. Sisterhood is powerful.”