We've Come a Long Way? Maybe Not ...

Joanne Bamberger
Politics & Views

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The 1970s were a good time to be a high school girl. Fashions were changing. Opportunities were opening up. And women role models were taking the bull by the horns, asking -- even demanding -- to be treated equally in the workplace and the world.

During those years, I dreamed that I wouldn't have to worry about being treated equally and paid equally, and it seemed as if that time was on the horizon. In 1970, that's also what a group of women Newsweek employees thought, until they realized that they weren't getting anywhere and filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Newsweek just to have to chance to get beyond the mailroom and into the newsroom.

They did make it into the newsroom eventually, producing some amazing women's voices like Anna Quindlen. But in a country where women make up 52% of the population, we're still a long way from equal numbers many arenas, including Congress and many white-collar professions.

In 2010, we're really not as far as many of us had hoped we'd be. I thought I wouldn't have to worry about such things for my daughter or myself. But 40 years after that bold lawsuit, while things have moved forward, the state of women in traditionally male-controlled industries -- like the media -- hasn't changed all that much in terms of women's voices.

Recently, Newsweek ran an article on the 40th anniversary of that lawsuit entitled Are We There, Yet? The answer was a pretty straightforward "no."

At about the same time, National Public Radio released a report detailing the small number of women voices included as experts in the stories they run. It also featured some commentary from male reporters who were stunned at the difference from having a woman's perspective on their stories!

As the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, these concrete examples of what I suspected was still the case in our world makes me wonder whether we'll ever reach the goal of having our voices represented equally in the places where they matter. 

Joanne Bamberger also likes to hang out around the blogosphere using her alter ego, PunditMom.

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