It’s hard to conceptualize a world where the likes of Hannah Arendt, Martha Gellhorn, Joan Didion, or any of the eminentfemale journalists of the last century, would have been considered inadequate purely by virtue of being women. It’s even weirder to imagine that the Spectator may not have been a welcome environment for them, were they students here up until even as recently as 30 years ago. As somebody raised on Gilmore Girls and Michiko Kakutani, I’ve always understood journalism to be fairly accessible, at least as a hobby. But it wasn’t always this way.
In this week’s lead story, Rebeka Cohan and Emma Goss, two long-time and accomplished members of Spectator’s staff, detail the history of Spectator’s complicated history with female membership and leadership. As they explain, dating back to the creation of Barnard College in 1889, female students on both sides of Broadway have had to wait at the doors of the myriad Old Boys Clubs on campus. Weaving together anecdotes from Barnard alumni, accounts from the Spectator archives, and current perspectives from campus leaders, Rebeka and Emma shine a light on what it means, and has meant, to be a female journalist at Columbia.
Despite the fact that we now see female leaders in many clubs at Columbia, especially in campus media organizations, when it comes to the world of journalism, the odds are still stacked in the favor of an elite few, relatively. There are plenty more glass ceilings to break in the newsroom—both locally (at Columbia) and globally.