Collins on Abramson’s appointment: ‘Maybe we’ve reached the ultimate goal of the women’s movement’

After hearing that Jill Abramson was named editor of The New York Times, columnist Gail Collins couldn’t help but think about how much has changed since the early 1970s, when female journalists were still widely discriminated against at the Times.

In an email interview, Collins — who was the Times’ first female editorial page editor and has written two books about women in American society — referred to Nan Robertson’s “The Girls in the Balcony,” which describes this discrimination. She also spoke about why Abramson’s appointment is so significant:

“I was very happy but not surprised since Jill was such a logical choice.

The other day I had a chance to reread Nan’s description of the balcony at the National Press Club where women reporters were — as a great gesture of tolerance by the men — allowed to stand huddled together if they wanted to cover newsmakers’ appearances there. While the male reporters and their friends/doctors/insurance agents/golf partners sat and ate lunch, the women stood up there, straining to hear what was being said.

This went on until the 1970s, and it just knocks me out to think that I got to watch my profession go from there to here.

In her talk [to the newsroom this afternoon], Jill thanked Janet Robinson, who’s head of the Times corporation and a wonderful role model and friend to us all.

In this one great paper, maybe we’ve reached the ultimate goal of the entire women’s movement, which is to make it utterly normal for women to be everywhere, including the top.”

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  • Anonymous

    As I wrote in my own reaction to this news, we’ve come a long way since the early days of my journalism career many years ago when as a novice magazine associate editor I put up with cat calls and worse from trade show attendees I encountered on business trips. Yes, there have been other strong women in positions of power in the news business, including Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown. But the New York Times is the old guard, which underlines the significance of this event. Maybe with enough women like them in positions of responsibility in the industry young journalists won’t have to walk through the gauntlet of sexism and misogyny I once did. 

    http://wp.me/pEnRH-1WR

  • Anonymous

    As I wrote in my own reaction to this news, we’ve come a long way since the early days of my journalism career many years ago when as a novice magazine associate editor I put up with cat calls and worse from trade show attendees I encountered on business trips. Yes, there have been other strong women in positions of power in the news business, including Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown. But the New York Times is the old guard, which underlines the significance of this event. Maybe with enough women like them in positions of responsibility in the industry young journalists won’t have to walk through the gauntlet of sexism and misogyny I once did. 

    http://wp.me/pEnRH-1WR

  • Anonymous

    Ms Yada, that was not only a funny typo, that was an atomic typo, typos that spellcheck cannot SEE….some day, Julia will write about atomic typos. for now see blog here: http://atomictypo.blogspot.com

    thing is, we need humans in the biz, still. THEREFORE: my blog to wake people up…

  • http://www.suzanneyada.com/ suzanneyada

    Hahahah, no problem, typos happen. That one was just kinda… funny. Thanks for taking responsibility Julie.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Good parsing. I think she means that the goal has been to normalize women in any position, and now maybe that’s happened at the Times. I don’t think she means that all goals of the women’s movement have now been accomplished. –Julie

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Ugh — it should be “has” written. I created the typo in the editing process and have now fixed it. Thanks! –Julie

  • http://www.suzanneyada.com/ suzanneyada

    “his” written or “has” written?
    A funny typo. Sorta.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628233825 Trevor Butterworth

    Surely a higher goal for the “entire” women’s movement might be the presidency? Or equal pay? Or even equal pay for women in journalism? It’s great that Abramson is going to be the editor of the NYT, don’t get me wrong, but she isn’t the first female newspaper editor in American history; and the New York Times, exalted though it may be, is not a cypher for America: it’s just now a bit more like the other bits of America that got women to the top earlier.