Newsweek Still Wages Gender War, 40 Years Later

Lynden had already written for The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine and got kudos for covering the political rise of New York Mayor John Lindsay, but her requests for a promotion went nowhere.

"I was never turned down," she said. "I was told I should have it but then whichever senior editor at a given time went to one of the Willendas, I'd never get a straight story."

Newsweek: A 'Mad Man' Culture

The snubs politicized her colleague in the national affairs research department Lucy Howard, who had also begun in the mailroom and had never risen above researcher.

"Pat was told she had to turn over her sources to a young man who had not done any of the work and really not as capable as she was," she said. "That really cut it for me."

Howard, a smart graduate of prestigious Harvard, had interviewed for her job in her best dress and gloves.

For awhile, she fit right in to the Newsweek culture.

"There was a lot of flirting -- it was part of the game and you knew how to handle it," said Howard. "You had to be charming and witty and be able to banter and not cringe at their dirty jokes. It was a 'Mad Men' kind of atmosphere."

Howard and two others, Judy Gingold and Margaret Montagno, began to discuss how they might "stir this up."

As ringleaders, they coaxed one woman at a time to join their cause, often giggling and whispering while washing their hands in the ladies room -- first three of them, then nine and finally 46.

After an attorney friend advised that they had a case, the women approached numerous civil rights lawyers, only to be told they were "crazy," according to Lynden.

But they finally found a young legal associate from the ACLU, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who later went on to head up the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"A black lawyer and a woman in full womanhood, pregnant -- she was just perfect," said Lynden.

Surprisingly, at the time a woman -- Katherine Graham of the Washington Post -- was publisher, but that didn't seem to help their cause.

"Women often don't recognize or are insensitive to, discrimination against women," Norton, now a congressman from Washington, D.C., told the press at the time.

Male reaction to the gender complaint was mostly silent.

"I remember running in to 'Oz' in the hall and his taking us into his office. He was so hurt because we were a family, and that we didn't come talk to him," said Howard, who is now 69.

"I remember him saying, and I was insulted: 'I can understand you, Pat, but Lucy, you are such a nice girl.'"

Men too 'Career-Oriented' to Fight

Bruce Porter, who was Newsweek's urban affairs editor in 1970, said the editors weren't intentionally sexist.

"An old boys' network implies the old boys know what's going on and were conscious of keeping them down -- that wasn't the case," he said. "That was how they were born. This was the natural order of things."

Porter, now 71, said many of the young male reporters were sympathetic after the complaint -- he even got in trouble with one of the Wallendas for Xeroxing "propoganda" for the women.

"We all thought they were getting a raw deal, but nobody was going to stand up and get counted," said Porter, who later started the journalism program at Brooklyn College and taught at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

"We were career-oriented and weren't about to risk our jobs," he said.

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