Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nan Robertson died of heart failure on October 13 at a nursing home in Rockville, Maryland. She was 83. Robertson, a reporter for the New York Times, won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for "Toxic Shock," an account of her sudden battle with Toxic Shock Syndrome at the age of 55, reports the New York Times. She is also well-known for her 1992 book "The Girls in the Balcony: Women, Men, and The New York Times," which recounted a class-action sex discrimination suit filed against the Times in 1974 on behalf of all of its 550 female employees, according to the Washington Post.
Robertson, who joined the staff of The New York Times in 1955, was not one of the seven named plaintiffs in the suit. The case titled Elizabeth Boylan et al. v. the New York Times was settled out-of-court in 1978 for $350,000 and an agreement from the Times that it would implement an affirmative action plan and equalize pay and promotions, reports the New York Times. The lead plaintiff in the case, who now goes by the name Betsy Wade, told the Washington Post that Robertson's book "provides the only record of what we considered an important step for women in the most visible part of journalism at the time. But what other papers saw in this settlement was much more important: that if the Times can't win [a sex discrimination lawsuit], we'd better clean up our act." Robertson's book title referenced the auditorium of the National Press Club in Washington, where women were restricted to balcony seating. Women were not permitted to join the Club until 1971, according to the Washington Post.
When Robertson became a reporter with the Times she was assigned to the women's department. She was promoted to the Washington bureau in 1963 and the Paris bureau in 1973, reports the New York Times. After two years she returned to the US to seek treatment for alcoholism, later chronicling her recovery in the 1988 book "Getting Better: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous."
Robertson was born in Chicago on July 11, 1926. She attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism before launching her career. After retiring from the New York Times in 1988, she served as a Woodrow Wilson National Fellow and a fellow at MacDowell Colony before teaching journalism at the University of Maryland, according to the Washington Post. She was honored with the lifetime achievement award from the International Women's Media Foundation and the Washington Press Foundation.
Media Resources: New York Times 10/14/09, Washington Post 10/14/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .