when pigs fly … expect the unbelievable

Archive for August 2011

The first woman to speak to the National Press Club was Gloria Steinem.

Did you know that in the 1930s Eleanor Roosevelt started a weekly female-only press conference in order to induce news organizations to hire at least one female reporter?

While you may think that being unable to be a member of the National Press Club was not a big deal, it was.  Before women were admitted to membership, if a woman wanted to cover many of the important events and dinners with newsmakers held at the National Press Club, they had to sit in a balcony above the dining room.  Acoustically it was difficult for them to hear what those at the podium were saying.  And during dinners, they watched their male colleagues eat and drink and make savvy conversation and business connections.

Sort of like golf, you think?

In 2006 I received an award from the American Bar Association.  The award was presented at a luncheon held at the National Press Club in Washington DC. I had never been to the National Press Club before and I was quite excited about the venue.

Did you know that the National Press Club was not open to women journalists until 1971?  Women traditionally had been barred from the National Press Club, which was founded in 1908.  Women formed the Women’s National Press Club in 1919 (African Americans formed the Capital Press Club in 1944 – the National Press Club was open only to white men. This was rectified in 1955 when the National Press club opened its doors to African American males.), but the status of the Women’s national Press Club simply didn’t provide these women journalists with the professional access and exposure that the National Press Club provided its members.  After all, every president since Theodore Roosevelt had visited the National Press Club, and since Warren Harding, every president has been made a member.

After African American males were provided access to the Club, female journalists began to more forcefully fight for membership, but to no effect.  So the WNPC voted, in December of 1970, to open its doors to men and renamed it the Washington Press Club.  The following month, the National Press Club voted 227 to 56 to admit women and in 1985 the two clubs merged.

Guess who was the first woman to address the National Press club?

Tune in tomorrow…


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