Many glass ceilings have broken for women since the the 1970s, although—as we saw last week— certainly not all. In “The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace,” Jewish journalist, Lynn Povich recalls shattering one such glass ceiling with her co-workers at Newsweek magazine.
The book by Povich was published in 2012 and recently was made into a TV series. A fictionalized version of the story, starring Genevieve Angelson and Jim Belushi, is now streaming on Amazon. In an interview with JTA, Povich spoke about how growing up in a Jewish home inspired her to fight for equal rights in the workplace.
Povich’s memoir tells the story of 45 women working at Newsweek in the 1970s who filed a lawsuit on the grounds of sex discrimination which led to major progress for women in the workplace. She became the first female senior editor for Newsweek in 1975.
Povich grew up in Washington D.C. to an observant Orthodox family, who kept Shabbat and had large family gatherings on holidays. At the age of 10, Povich’s family moved to a more Conservative synagogue, B’nai Israel Congregation, and she became one of the first women to be bat-mitzvahed in 1956 in that synagogue. The author says that her upbringing inspired her to push for change.
“I do think this sense of it’s what you do, not what you say — that your deeds count and how are you making the world a better place,” Povich told JTA. “Newsweek was a very radicalizing action for me. Organizing with other women and together realizing that you actually can make change set me on my path for the rest of my life.”
As a young girl she wanted everything her brothers had. If they had a bar mitzvah, she also wanted a bat mitzvah. “I was proud to be one of the first young women in our shul to step on the bimah, read Hebrew and become an adult in the eyes of my religion,” Povich said in the interview. “I believe strongly in preserving our religion, traditions and culture. I’m so glad I did it. It was meaningful to me then and now,” she added.
Her father, Shirley Povich, was a sports columnist for the Washington Post in the 40s and 50s who covered the lack of integration in major league sports frequently. “My sense of civil rights and human rights came from this period when he was very involved with that,” she said.
Today, Povich lives in New York with her two kids and husband. She is still involved and supports the International Women’s Media Foundation and Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.
The “Good Girls Revolt” TV series takes place at the fictional magazine company, "News of the Week." The show encompasses the setting of the newsroom revolt, including gender bias in the news industry and women’s fashion during the 70s. You can stream it on Amazon TV.