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12/6/1996 - Army Trainers Accused of Rape Face Arraignment

Three Army trainers - two drill instructors and a company commander - were expected to enter a plea on charges of rape and sexual misconduct before a military judge on December 6. The men are charged with crimes including rape, sodomy, adultery, obstruction of justice, fraternization with recruits and conduct unbecoming an officer. A spokesman for Aberdeen Proving Ground said a trial date for early next year will likely be set. Only Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson has been jailed while Staff. Sgt. Nathanial Beach and Capt. Derrick Robertson remain free.

12/6/1996 - Menopausal Women Taking Estrogen Should Avoid Alcohol

Women who take estrogen supplements to reduce symptoms of menopause may be at a higher risk for breast cancer if they consume alcohol. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on December 4 that Estrace, a specific form of estrogen supplements, may in fact cause breast cancer in women who drink a considerable amount of alcohol. The study, conducted by Elizabeth S. Ginsburg, a Harvard doctor, is based upon previous studies which indicated that estrogen replacement alone may increase the risk of breast cancer. Ginsburg's recent findings point to the fact that alcohol may factor into the previous studies, particularly in women who consume more than an occasional drink.

Ginsburg notes that Estrace, when combined with alcohol, may triple the blood levels of estradiole, the female hormone which helps reduce the symptoms of menopause. This overdose may be harmful, although further research is required.

Nearly a quarter of women in the U.S. over the age of 50 take estrogen when the ovaries stop producing it after menopause. Estrogen is commonly known to provide bone density and be a common defender of heart disease, the most common cause of death among women.

12/6/1996 - Menopausal Women Taking Estrogen Should Avoid Alcohol

Women who take estrogen supplements to reduce symptoms of menopause may be at a higher risk for breast cancer if they consume alcohol. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on December 4 that Estrace, a specific form of estrogen supplements, may in fact cause breast cancer in women who drink a considerable amount of alcohol. The study, conducted by Elizabeth S. Ginsburg, a Harvard doctor, is based upon previous studies which indicated that estrogen replacement alone may increase the risk of breast cancer. Ginsburg's recent findings point to the fact that alcohol may factor into the previous studies, particularly in women who consume more than an occasional drink.

Ginsburg notes that Estrace, when combined with alcohol, may triple the blood levels of estradiole, the female hormone which helps reduce the symptoms of menopause. This overdose may be harmful, although further research is required.

Nearly a quarter of women in the U.S. over the age of 50 take estrogen when the ovaries stop producing it after menopause. Estrogen is commonly known to provide bone density and be a common defender of heart disease, the most common cause of death among women.

12/5/1996 - First Lady Condemns Republican International Family Planning Cuts

At a conference in La Paz, Bolivia on December 3, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed the importance of funding for international family planning. Rodham Clinton's linked Republican-led international family planning cutoffs to increased maternal mortality rates in Central and South American as a result of illegal, unsafe abortions. There are nearly 400 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births compared to 8 deaths for every 100,000 births in the United States.

Clinton discussed the economic consequences of maternal mortality rate noting that Republican anti-abortion congress members cut U.S. AID support for family planning initiatives 35 percent last year. "I will share the powerful stories that I have heard here and elsewhere to explain why these programs are critical," Rodham Clinton noted referring to women at a health clinic and a community bank she visited earlier in La Paz. Clinton later stated "East, West, North and South, there is a growing appreciation of women's contributions in and outside the home - and a greater understanding that everyone in society benefits when women are allowed to claim the political, economic, social and civic power they are due."

The conference, entitled "The Rights of Women and Children within the Framework of Sustainable Human Development," included Rodham Clinton, Bolivia's first lady Ximena Iturralde-Sanchez and other first ladies of the Americas. The theme of the sixth annual conference was devoted to the continuation of family planning and maternal health for women as well as the obliteration of poverty among women and children worldwide.

12/5/1996 - Witnesses Testify that Simpson Beat Nicole

Contradicting O.J. Simpson's recent testimony that he "never" hit or beat ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, several prosecution witnesses in the wrongful death trial against Simpson have testified that Simpson did indeed beat Nicole. Simpson's friend Al Cowlings, visibility uncomfortable on the stand, testified that Nicole said Simpson hit her and caused the wounds visible on photos from 1989. Nicole had to go to the emergency room for the wounds, and Simpson later pleaded no-contest to charges of spousal battery.

Dog groomer India Allen testified that she saw Simpson hit Nicole in a parking lot in the early 1980s. Pharmacist Albert Aguilera said he saw Simpson slap Nicole and Nicole fall down on a beach in 1986. Family friend Donna Estes and tennis pro Jackie Cooper both said Simpson talked about his problems with Nicole and then-girlfriend Paula Barbieri during a weekend a few weeks before the murders of Nicole and Ron Goldman on June 12, 1994.

On videotaped testimony shown on December 4, Paula Barbieri said she broke off her relationship with Simpson by leaving him a phone message on the day of the murders. Barbieri testified that the messages Simpson left for her later in the day before the murders asked what went wrong between them and led Barbieri to believe that Simpson had received her "dear John" message. The prosecution theorized at the criminal trial in which Simpson was found not guilty that Simpson snapped emotionally after Barbieri's break-up.

Nancy Ney, a volunteer at the battered women's shelter Sojourn House in Los Angeles testified that a frightened woman named Nicole called the shelter's hotline five days before the murders. The woman said her "high-profile" ex-husband of eight years had threatened to kill her. Ney said the caller's voice was consistent with other tapes of Nicole and that the caller said she was about the same age as Nicole and had two young children. Ney testified, "She said he (her unidentified ex-husband) told her a few different times that if he ever caught her with another man, he would kill her." According to the shelter's policy, Ney never asked the caller's last name.

A costumer for an exercise video Simpson taped in May 1994 also contradicted Simpson's testimony that he never owned a dark sweatsuit similar to the one that left fibers on the murder victims.

12/5/1996 - Clinton Names Albright First Female Secretary of State

President Clinton named U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright as the new U.S. Secretary of State on Thursday, December 5. Upon receiving Senate confirmation, Albright will become the first female secretary of state.

Albright was born in Czechoslovakia and moved to the U.S. with her parents at age 11 after being forced out of her home country by Adolf Hitler and then Joseph Stalin. Albright, a naturalized American citizen, is know for her work on Bosnia intervention and NATO expansion.

12/5/1996 - Hawaii Judge Puts Hold on Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Circuit Judge Kevin Chang, who ruled December 3 that a ban on same-sex marriages violated the Hawaii state constitution, has put the ruling on hold pending a state appeal. Chang agreed with state attorneys that allowing same-sex couples to marry would be problematic in the event that Hawaii's Supreme Court overturns his ruling. Attorney General Rick Eichor said he will file an appeal within 30 days, effectively sending the case back to the state Supreme Court which ruled in 1993 that a ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional unless there was a compelling state interest. Chang ruled earlier this week that the state had failed to show a compelling state interest to ban same-sex marriages.

In September, President Clinton signed into law the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) which would allow states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. According to the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, some 15 states have passed legislation barring same-sex marriage or recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. Seventeen other states have thrown out such measures. Massachusetts Gov. William Weld has said he considers DOMA unconstitutional and maintains same-sex couples married in Hawaii would "be entitled to all the benefits and burdens of marriage" in Massachusetts.
Human Rights Campaign spokesman David Smith said that lesbian and gay activists will work to overturn DOMA if the Hawaii ruling is upheld.

12/5/1996 - Republicans in Congress Plan for Another Attack on Affirmative Action

Florida Republican Rep. Charles Canady, chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution said he plans to reintroduce legislation to do away with affirmative action for women and people of color in the federal government. After his bill won approval by his subcommittee in March, Republican leadership dropped the bill as a priority, and no other committees or panels took up the measure. A similar bill sponsored by then Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole also never made it out of committee.

California contractor Ward Connerly, chair of the campaign for the anti-affirmative action measure Proposition 209, is planning to form a national organization to abolish affirmative action for women and people of color and to advocate need-based programs instead.

12/5/1996 - Battered Wife Who Shot Husband Gets Early Release from Prison

New Hampshire Gov. Steve Merrill's five-member Executive Council voted unanimously to release June Briand from prison on work-release in April. Briand has served nearly 10 years in prison for fatally shooting her abusive husband. She was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, but her lawyer hoped last month's hearing would land Briand in a halfway house sooner than April. Briand pledged to help other battered women upon her release from prison, which is conditional upon good behavior.

12/4/1996 - Hawaii Judge Legalizes Same-Sex Marriages

Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Kevin Chang ruled on December 3 that the state must recognize same-sex marriages because the state government had failed to show that there was a "compelling state interest" to prohibit same-sex marriages. Chang ruled that a ban on same-sex marriages violates the state's constitution, making Hawaii the first state to recognize same-sex marriages. The state Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that Hawaii had to show the "compelling state interest" to justify the ban which appeared unconstitutional. State Deputy Attorney General Rick Eichor plans to file for a stay of Chang's order to buy time to study the ruling and said he would make an appeal to the state Supreme Court if the stay is not granted.

Attorney Dan Foley originally filed suit in 1990 on behalf of three same-sex couples. Of Tuesday's ruling, Foley said, "I couldn't have gotten more; we got 100 percent."

In September, President Clinton signed into law the "Defense of Marriage Act" which would allow states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. According to the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, some 15 states have passed legislation barring same-sex marriage or recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. Seventeen other states have thrown out such measures.

12/4/1996 - Women's Groups Press for Equality in Cabinet

Women's groups are pushing the Clinton administration to diversify the Clinton cabinet and appoint women to key spots including one of several vacancies in national security positions. Women's rights leaders are waiting to see if U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright will be named the first woman secretary of state. Clinton has said less about appointing women to key positions than he did four years ago and has delayed making any appointments due to the Thanksgiving holiday and his hoarse voice after a 12-day Asian tour. Clinton has appointed more women to judgeships and Cabinet posts than previous presidents, but white men are still the aides present for important decision-making and with whom Clinton seems most comfortable.

12/4/1996 - Civil Rights Groups Seek to Block UC from Enforcing Prop 209

A coalition of civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, announced that it would ask U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on December 5 to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the University of California from implementing Proposition 209, the passed constitutional amendment that seeks to outlaw affirmative action programs and to gut sex discrimination law in the state. Last week, Henderson issued a temporary restraining order to bar Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and Attorney General Dan Lungren from implementing Prop 209, indicating there was a strong probability that the initiative would be found unconstitutional. The restraining order will remain in effect until December 16 when Henderson will hear arguments in favor of a preliminary injunction to freeze implementation of the measure until a trial decides its constitutionality. The ACLU indicated that the University of California planned to continue its implementation of Prop 209 despite Henderson's ruling, affecting the admission of students for fall 1997.

12/4/1996 - Women Demand Fair Compensation For Hazardous Breast Implants

Dow Corning, once a leading manufacturer of silicone breast implants, is now under intense scrutiny from women concerning a settlement award issued December 2, offering breast implant recipients compensation for related medical problems associated with the implant procedure. Dow Corning had been a supplier of breast implants since 1964 until questions were raised concerning the safety of the implants. Women alleged implants were causing immunity-related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In 1992, the FDA issued a moratorium on all implants while their safety was disputed.

In response to over 15,000 lawsuits filed against the company since 1994, Dow Corning has now offered a $2 billion proposal to settle all implant claims. However only $600 million offered would be distributed among women in out-of-court settlements. The remaining $1.4 billion would be available for women contingent only upon a single trial demonstrating that the implants do in fact cause disease.

Women and their lawyers have criticized the plan's distribution claiming that $600 million is not enough to meet the needs of over 300,000 implant recipients. Sybil Niden Boldrich, a former implant patient who had her implants removed, noted that out-of-court settlements would only award each woman about $2000. "You can't sell these things for 30 years and just give women $2000 and tell them to go away," Boldrich stated.

12/4/1996 - Women Over 40 Should Have Regular Mammograms, Some Studies Show

At an annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America on December 2, studies were released that show annual breast screenings for women over the age of 40 are both recommended and necessary. Conducted by Dr. Stephen Feig, director of breast imaging at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, the studies address an issue often debated by cancer prevention specialists - when and how often screenings should be administered. One of Feig's studies has shown that annual mammograms for women ages 40 to 49 could reduce the rate death from breast cancer by 35 to 40 percent in contrast to a 25 to 30 percent decrease in fatalities for women who are screened every two years. Both the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association condone annual mammography.

These recommendations however, contradict the views of The National Cancer Institute which claims that Feig's research is not yet reliable enough to recommend administering regular screenings. Dr. Barnett Kramer, deputy director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the National Cancer Institute notes that there is ambiguity involved in the research conducted on women in the 40 to 50-year-old age group. Kramer also claims that mammograms are expensive and may produce stressful false- positive results.

Two other studies released by Dr. Feig advise annual screenings for younger women under the age of forty.

12/4/1996 - Despite Egypt Ban, Female Genital Mutilation Continues

A ban passed in Egypt on female genital mutilation (FGM) in July of 1996, has yet to take affect in most Egyptian cities. FGM, the partial or complete removal of a woman's clitoris or external genitals, is widely practiced in many sub-Saharan African nations as well as in Egypt. After complications FGM caused the July death of an eleven-year-old girl, pressure from international groups led to a ban on the operation issued by Health Minister Ismail Sallam. The decree, which pertains solely to public hospitals, remains ineffectual however in hindering the practice because of objections by Islamic fundamentalists, many of whom are health professionals who believe that the circumcision curbs women's sexual habits and maintains passivity in girls. Girls as young as three continue to undergo the painful procedure which, if it does not result in death, can cause lifelong pain and complications.

A recent national survey conducted this year by Macro International Inc. with help from the US Agency for International Development indicates that over 95 percent of married Egyptian women had been circumcised while nearly 90 percent of Egyptian girls had either already undergone the procedure or were awaiting circumcision. Human rights activists advocate the criminalization of the procedure and are attempting to promote public awareness of both the procedure and the need to make it a criminal offense. Marie Assaad, a chairwoman of a coalition of Egyptian non-governmental organizations has stated however "many doctors still believe it is a very important protection against disease and immorality and that talking against it is a Western Fad."

12/2/1996 - Proposition 209 On Hold -- Affirmative Action Continues in California

Implementation of Proposition 209, the amendment to the California constitution that prohibits affirmative action in public employment, education, and contracting, has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. Chief U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson issued a temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit against Proposition 209 brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Judge Henderson, a former Justice Department civil rights prosecutor, has said there is a "strong probability" that Prop 209 will be proven unconstitutional at a trial and be struck down permanently. The temporary restraining order blocks the state of California from implementing the new amendment at least until a scheduled hearing on December 16, at which point Judge Henderson could issue a permanent injunction to prevent implementation of Prop 209 until a trial is held.

The ACLU lawsuit argues that Proposition 209 is unconstitutional because it singles out women and minorities as groups that cannot benefit from affirmative action to remedy past discrimination. Other groups such as the disabled and veterans are not affected by Proposition 209.

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution "not only prohibits the outright exclusion of women and minorities from the political process, but also prohibits more subtle distortions of the political process that place special burdens on the ability of women and minorities to achieve beneficial legislation," wrote Judge Henderson in his temporary restraining order.

12/2/1996 - Supreme Court Blocks Challenge to Clinic Violence Law

The Supreme Court rejected without comment the appeal of an anti-abortion protester who claimed she was wrongly denied a jury trial for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. In rejecting the appeal Monday, December 2, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling by a federal judge who sentenced Marilyn Hatch with 30 days in jail and a $500 for an offense that could have led to a six month sentence and a $10,000 fine. In an earlier appeal, a U.S. appeals court noted that the Supreme Court does not consider six-month maximum prison terms enough to trigger a jury trial. In June 1994, Hatch and five other protesters were charged with violating the FACE law after creating a blockade at a Milwaukee clinic.

12/2/1996 - Japanese Bank Found Guilty of Sex Discrimination

For the first time, a Japanese court has found a Japanese employer guilty of sex discrimination for denying women promotions. The Tokyo District Court ordered the Shiba Shinyo credit union to pay 12 women employees almost $900,000 and to promote eleven of them to management positions. One of the women has already retired.

The twelve women filed their lawsuit more than nine years ago. They said men were trained on the job to pass the management exam, but women had to prepare on their own outside of work. One woman who worked at the bank for 42 years while putting herself through college, said that some of the men who started with her are now on the bank's board of directors while she was still answering phones when she retired three years ago. Ninety-nine percent of the bank's managers are men.

The bank has appealed the ruling.

12/2/1996 - Shannon Lucid Wins Congressional Space Medal of Honor

Shannon Lucid, who spent a record 188 days in space on the Russian space station Mir, became the first woman to be awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. President Clinton awarded her the medal in an Oval Office ceremony. Lucid set the American record for the longest time spent in space, as well as the world record for the longest time a woman has spent in space.

The Congressional Space Medal of Honor was authorized by Congress in 1969 to recognize "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind." Eight other astronauts have previously been awarded this medal.

12/2/1996 - John Salvi, Murderer of Abortion Clinic Workers, Found Dead

John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic receptionists in December 1994, was found dead in his maximum-security prison cell on November 29. Authorities believe he committed suicide. He was found with a plastic bag tied around his head.

Salvi was serving two life sentences without parole. At his trial, his court-appointed lawyer had argued that he was insane, but the court rejected this argument. Despite claims by women's rights groups of a nationwide conspiracy to commit violence at abortion clinics, Salvi's prosecutors said he acted alone and no accomplices were charged.

10/11/1996 - Rock Bands Perform Benefit Concert to Stop Violence Against Abortion Clinics


Mighty Mighty Bosstones' Dicky Barrett and Jen Trynin Will Co-Host Show Marks Upcoming CD Release on November 5

NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 1996- Morphine, Letters To Cleo, Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz, Fuzzy and Gigolo Aunts will perform a concert to mark the release of Safe and Sound: A Benefit in Response to the Brookline Clinic Violence, on Tuesday, October 29 at the Westbeth Theater in New York City. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Dicky Barrett and Jen Trynin in will co-host the show. Safe and Sound (Big Rig/Mercury Records: release date: Nov. 5) is a CD compilation featuring tracks donated by l6 Boston-area artists, including Letters To Cleo, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Morphine, Tracy Bonham, Aimee Mann, Deluxx Folk Implosion and Juliana Hatfield The disc and the concert will benefit the National Clinic Access Project.

Safe and Sound began as a fundraising project established by Boston-area musicians in response to the shootings of Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols at two women's health care clinics in Brookline, Mass. on December 30, 1994. Shortly after the deaths of Lowney and Nichols, Safe and Sound organized nine sold-out benefit concerts. in February 1995, featuring 37 artists that played five nights in seven Boston clubs. The grassroots effort raised more than $38,000 and garnered national attention, including coverage from Rolling Stone, MTV, SPIN and other media outlets.

“We want to be a champion of human rights and defend women's access to health care and the ability to make a choice. As soon as abortion becomes illegal, women's health care will follow suit" said Letters To Cleo vocalist Kay Hanley who helped organize the Boston benefits. "Everyone should have the right to safe healthcare," added Mighty Mighty Bosstones guitarist Nate Albert. Big Rig is the Mighty Mighty Bosstones label.

The National Clinic Access Project is a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation and is the largest clinic access project in the nation, leading efforts to keep women's health clinics open in the face of violence and harassment by abortion opponents.

9/18/1996 - Feminist Majority Foundation Applauds Giant Step Forward on Mifepristone FDA Approval

Today's announcement that the Food and Drug Administration has found mifepristone (formerly known as RU 486) "approvable" for early medical abortion represents a hard-won victory for the U.S. feminist movement, for the scientific and medical community, and, most importantly, for the women of this nation.
The FDA has put science ahead of politics. This milestone marks a giant step forward both in making mifepristone available to American women and in assuring the conduct of desperately needed research on the non-abortion indications of this life-saving medication.

The FDA has confirmed what women in Great Britain, France, and Sweden already know: Mifepristone is safe. It is effective. And, it's availability greatly benefits women.

For eight long years, the Feminist Majority Foundation has fought to bring mifepristone to the United States. We have worked to remove roadblock after roadblock to introduce this medical breakthrough into this country.

Again and again, the strength and breadth of support for mifepristone has dwarfed anti-abortion opposition. The Feminist Majority Foundation has delivered over 700,000 petitions to Roussel Uclaf and Hoechst AG urging release of the compound. We have organized meetings between the European pharmaceutical firms and delegations of feminist leaders and prominent scientists. We have won support for mifepristone from every major women's rights organization and medical and scientific association. Over 66% of women and men believe mifepristone should be available to women in the United States -- an unprecedentedlevel of support for a medication which is still not available.

The FDA's "approvable" rating -- which is the typical next step in the approval process -- moves us closer and closer to the introduction of mifepristone in the United States. With the continued vigilance of pro-choice organizations, we hope that final FDA approval will come quickly.

9/11/1996 - Georgia Schools Ordered by State Attorney General to Abandon Affirmative Action

On Monday (4-8), Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers sent an unsolicited letter to University System Chancellor Stephen Portch directing him to eliminate affirmative action programs for minorities at each state college and university. One of the missions of the university system is to make public colleges accessible to minorities, Portch said in a statement. "We are committed to providing a level playing field ¼ aimed at ensuring that all Georgia students can come to our colleges and universities with and equal opportunity to succeed," Portch said. He did, however, indicate that he would consider the recommendation.

Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference denounced Bowers' move as "an unsolicited, unwarranted intrusion by an obviously ambitious politician into efforts of the academic community to be just and inclusive in its educational agenda" and said these "political games" were a "disservice to the state." The 34 states schools have 206,000 students enrolled, 25 percent of whom are black or Hispanic.

9/1/1996 - Music Industry Women Raise Money for Feminist Majority Foundation's Clinic Defense Work

Over one hundred prominent women in the music and entertainment industries raised almost $19,000 for the Feminist Majority Foundation's National Clinic Defense Project at the annual Women's Health Luncheon 1996 held at Sony Music Studios. The gathering honored The Feminist Majority Foundation and Rock for Choice".

Hosted by Michele Anthony, Executive Vice President of Sony Music Entertainment, and by Rosemary Carroll, attorney, Gendler, Codikow, and Carroll, the event featured speakers Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Dr. Susan Wicklund, owner and medical director of Mountain Country Women's Clinic in Bozeman, Montana.

"The monies raised for the Feminist Majority Foundation, home to Rock for Choice, have enabled it to fund its National Clinic Defense Project," said Carroll, "which is dedicated to fighting anti-a bortion violence nationwide by training pro-choice volunteers, securing injunctions to prevent violence, and by monitoring and alerting federal and local law enforcement agencies to antiabortion violence."

Women in attendance included Sylvia Rhone, head of the record label Electra; Polly Anthony, chair of 550 Music; Judy McGrath of MTV; Brigitte Wright of Curtis Entertainment; Ina Meibach, entertainment lawyer; Staci Slater, manager of the band Presidents of the United States of America; Maggie Gurewitz, longtime Feminist Majority Foundation supporter; Barbara Krueger, feminist visual artist; Wendy Laister, manager of the band Aerosmith; Barbara Skydel of Premier Talent; Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro; and Donita Sparks, lead singer of L7.

8/26/1996 - Special Report from Democratic National Convention

Association For Women Journalists Releases Survey:
"Washington Reporters' Experiences And Perceptions:
Does Gender Matter?"

By FMF Special Correspondent Francine Haber, Colorado Woman News

On August 26, the opening of the Democratic National Convention, the Chicago chapter of the Association for Women Journalists released the results of its survey on differences between male and female reporters in Washington DC. The project "Washington Journalists' Experiences & Perceptions: Does Gender Matter?" was conducted by the Northwestern University Survey Laboratory.

Male and female journalists in Washington were found to work for the same kinds of news organizations, cover the same beats, feel the same about their supervisors, and write the same kinds of stories. Their profiles are similar in age, race, education. They are highly satisfied with their work and consider themselves well paid.

But women reporters are more likely to see gender as a powerful force affecting their careers. More women than men agreed that men reporters:

Are more likely to be recognized at press conferences, more likely to get information from government officials and lobbyists, and more likely to get leaks from sources.

Get easier assignments and are less qualified, when holding positions of authority, than their female counterparts.

Are less likely to be harassed by sources and are more likely to be sought for advice on coverage or for speaking engagements.

Have a different reporting style from that of women reporters.

On issues of gender and family, the survey shows that women have made different choices for their personal lives. Nearly half (45%) of the women reporters said they had never married, compared with less than one- quarter (22%) of the men. Nearly three-fourths of men reporters (72%) said they are now married, compared with 48% of women. Nearly two-thirds of women said they had no children. And, when reporters with children were asked how much a child hampered a reporter's career, women were almost twice as likely as men to say that a child hurt their career at least "a fair amount." Different standards apply, depending on the reporter's gender. "Men who leave work early on some afternoon or skip a day and use the honest excuse of a child's performance or a sick child or a ball game get the Alan Alda award for being a good parent," one male reporter said. "They're seen as a '90s dad, living the rhetoric. Women who do the same things are sometimes thought to be not as dedicated to the job."

Women reporters of the same age and experience as their male counterparts tend to be paid less on the job. For women, the midpoint for salary fell between $40,000 and $60,000. For men, the midpoint fell in the $60,000 to $80,000 range. "Although it appears women journalists in Washington have made some great strides, the gains have also come with a trade-off in their personal lives," said Susy Schultz, president of the Association for Women Journalists' Chicago chapter.

Following the release of the study, leading women journalists took part in a panel to discuss how their personal experiences reflected its findings. Molly Ivins, author and syndicated columnist; Star Jones, senior correspondent for Inside Edition; Carole Simpson, senior correspondent ABC News; Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio; Nancy J. Woodhull, executive director of the Media Studies Center; Eleanor Clift, contributing editor at Newsweek; Ellen Hume, commentator for CNN and PBS; and Susy Schultz of the Chicago Sun-Times were joined by Congresswomen Enid Greene of Utah and Barbara Kennelly of Connecticut. More women of diverse economic backgrounds should be brought into journalism, the panel agreed.

The Association for Women Journalists is dedicated to supporting women in journalism and promoting respectful treatment of women by the news media.

For more information contact the AWJ at (312) 321-2146.