Part II – 1970

1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 |1957 | 1958 | 1959
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966
1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 19701971 | 1972 | 1973
1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980
1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987
1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | Epilogue, 1993


NOW founder and national treasurer Inka O’Hanrahan died on January 15, 1970. A clinical biochemist, she owned and directed her own laboratory in San Francisco until she suffered a first heart attack in 1969. She was vice chairman of the California Commission on the Status of Women (1965-67) and lectured in the U.S. and Europe on the status of women. She organized the Northern and Southern California Chapters of NOW.

Aileen Hernandez was elected President and Wilma Scott Heide, chair of the Board, at NOW’s Fourth National Conference in Des Plaines, IL. During a two-hour “farewell address,” retiring president Betty Friedan called for a “Women’s Strike for Equality” on August 26-a surprise proposal to other national officers sitting on the dais, including the incoming president, Hernandez. NOW Membership 3033; NOW Annual Budget $38,000. (03/20/70)

The Women’s Heritage Calendar and Almanac, the forerunner of many feminist calendars and datebooks to come, was produced and published by Toni Carabillo, Sylvia Hartman, Judith Meuli, Louise Ramsdell, Cathy Timlin and Lenore Youngman-all NOW activists-and went on sale at NOW’s National Conference. (03/20/70)

As a prelude to the Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26, New York NOW members, led by chapter president Ivy Bottini, organized a demonstration at the Statue of Liberty. They draped over a railing an enormous banner, which they had carried over to the island in sections, which read, “WOMEN OF THE WORLD UNITE!” (08/10/70)

Four students were killed and 10 were wounded when National Guardsmen opened fire on students demonstrating on the Kent State University campus against the American invasion of Cambodia. (05/18/70)

On the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, NOW organized the “Women’s Strike for Equality.” There were demonstrations and rallies in more than 90 major cities and small towns in 42 states. Some 50,000 women marched on Fifth Avenue in New York and across the country more than 100,000 women were involved. (08/26/70)

After the elections, 13 women were members of Congress-12 in the House and one in the Senate. This was the largest number of women to serve in Congress since 1960 and, in a change from a traditional pattern, none of the women who ran for Congress were widows trying to fill seats vacated by the death of their husbands. (11/03/70)


United Airlines halted its “men only” executive flights between New York and Chicago, which NOW had protested as a form of sex discrimination in public accommodations. (01/14/70)

Diane Crump became the first woman jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby. (05/03/70)

The Canadian House of Commons was forced to adjourn for nearly an hour while guards removed young women who had chained themselves to seats in the public galleries to dramatize a demand for a liberalized abortion law. (05/11/70)

Congress initiated the first federal family planning program, Title X of the Public Health Services Act. (1970)

A survey of some of the most highly educated men and women in the nation showed that 60% of the men and 43% of the women believed that a woman’s major role should be as a wife or mother. The survey was conducted by the American Association of University Women. (06/70)

After prolonged lobbying by New York NOW, the city passed a bill banning sex discrimination in public accommodations, believed to be the first law of its kind in any major city in the country. (07/21/70)

The first U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared a Massachusetts law forbidding the sale of contraceptives to unmarried adults was unconstitutional. (07/13/70)

A press conference in New York headed by Gloria Steinem, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Flo Kennedy, Sally Kempton, Susan Brownmiller, Ivy Bottini and Dolores Alexander expressed “solidarity with the struggle of homosexuals to attain their liberation in a sexist society.” It was provoked by the Time magazine article that sought to discredit Kate Millet because of her bisexuality. (See below). NOW’s president, Aileen Hernandez, sent a statement deploring Time’s “sexual McCarthyism.” (12/17/70)


More than 300 women attended a Professional Women’s Caucus, organized by NOW’s Dr. JoAnn Evansgardner and Doris Sassower, an attorney and former president of the New York Women’s Bar Association. They decided to formally organize their Caucus and work for women’s rights, child care and to initiate women’s studies courses and programs. (04/11/70)

A model affirmative action plan, the first ever written to conform to Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC) requirements, was published by NOW and submitted to the Labor Department to be used for all colleges and universities. The plan was written by Dr. Ann Scott, chair of NOW’s Campus Coordinating Committee and a member of the faculty at SUNY’s University of Buffalo, NY. (05/14/70)

Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) filed charges of sex discrimination under EO 11375 against the entire college and university system of the state of Florida. (05/25/70)

U.S. House hearings on education discrimination, for which NOW had long agitated, were finally held. The first such hearings in U.S. history, they resulted in 1,250 pages of testimony. (06/07/70)

Additional courses on the role and history of women began to emerge on campuses like Cornell, Princeton, Vassar, the University of Florida, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and others. (09/70)


NOW chapters in California lobbied for a bill introduced in the California Legislature to permit girls to work as newspaper deliverers at the same age as boys. Existing state law allowed boys to begin delivering newspapers at age 10 and girls at age 18. (04/15/70)

NOW established a Federal Compliance Committee to press for enforcement of federal equal opportunity laws for women. The Committee was specifically charged to develop a program and procedures for filing sex discrimination complaints with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC) and the EEOC. (05/02/70)

Time magazine reported that less than half of U.S. women were now full-time homemakers. In 1957, 57% of all women were homemakers full time; in 1970 the figure was only 48.4%.(05/11/70)

NOW filed a blanket sex discrimination complaint with the OFCC under Executive Order 11375 against 1,300 corporations charging they had all failed to file affirmative action plans for hiring women. (06/25/70)

The first suit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to secure equal job rights for women was filed against Libbey Owens Ford and United Glass and Ceramic Workers of North America and local union #9 of Toledo OH. (07/20/70)

NOW conducted demonstrations in 14 cities against the National Association of Manufacturers & Department of Labor closed-circuit television conference on equal opportunity to protest the exclusion of guidelines on sex discrimination from the Labor Department’s “Order 4,” which required affirmative action plans for minorities only. The next day, the Secretary of Labor promised to set up a group to develop guidelines on women. (07/31/70)

The first suit filed by the Labor Department under the 1963 Equal Pay Act was filed on behalf of men to equalize the pay of order-takers at McDonald drive-ins where young men were being paid less than older women employees. (08/70)

An “inside study” (anonymously authored) of “Sexism on Capitol Hill” documented discrimination against women on Congressional staffs. Of the 990 Senate staffers earning $12,000 to $31,000, nearly three-fourths were men. (09/15)

NOW was a party to the petition filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny AT&T a rate increase on the grounds that the company practiced “pervasive, system-wide, and blatantly unlawful” discrimination in the employment of women, Blacks and the Spanish-surnamed. Seven percent of all discrimination complaints filed with the EEOC were against AT&T- more than any other company. (12/10/70)

AT&T held a press conference in New York City to express its outrage at the EEOC charges of discrimination, claiming it had been a leader in hiring minorities and that women were “eligible for and were actually working in” all kinds of jobs, except those requiring climbing power poles or descending into “manholes.” (12/12/70)


In Detroit, women of NOW’s Ecumenical Task Force burned part of the newly released Roman Missal, which restricted the right of women to be lectors at Catholic Mass. (04/19/70)

More than 110 nuns, priests and lay persons met in Garrison, NY, to discuss the meaning for religion of the feminist movement. (11/12/70)

Heads of seven Catholic nuns’ organizations met with seven Catholic bishops at a meeting of bishops in Washington, D.C., declaring they wanted a stronger voice in policy matters and more varied job opportunities, including pastoral responsibilities. (11/17/70)


Sisterhood Is Powerful, An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement edited by Robin Morgan, and A Dialectic of Sex, The Case for a Feminist Revolution by Shulamith Firestone, were published. (1970)

Forty-six editorial staff members of Newsweek filed formal charges of sex discrimination against the magazine. (03/16/70)

More than 100 women from 10 women’s liberation groups, including New York NOW, invaded the offices of the Ladies Home Journal’s executive editor, John Mack Carter, and conducted an 11-hour sit-in with him and senior editor Lenore Hershey. They protested the image of women portrayed by women’s magazines and the status of women working on the magazines. (03/18/70)

The 147 women on the editorial staff of Time magazine filed a formal sex discrimination complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights against the corporation’s four magazines: Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated. (05/04/70)

The editor of the Washington Post issued a staff memorandum on guidelines for reporting about women and women’s issues, stipulating that reporters avoid words such as “brunette,” “cute,” “divorcee,” etc., unless the same kinds of words also were used about men. (06/03/70)

The logo that became the trademark of NOW was designed by Ivy Bottini, a founder of the New York Chapter of NOW and a graphic designer, at the request of Aileen Hernandez. She also designed the logo for the National Women’s Political Caucus founded in 1971. (1970)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a ruling requiring affirmative action in hiring by radio and television stations, but deliberately excluded women from coverage. NOW began a series of protests. (08/70)

The Female Eunich by Germaine Greer was published. (1970)

Under pressure from women, the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., long a traditional male bastion, voted to admit women members. (12/14/70)


NOW staged a large demonstration at the Los Angeles Hall of Justice to protest prosecution of doctors who performed abortions. (02/11/70)

A Hawaii law allowing abortions for all women who had been residents of the state for 90 days went into effect. (02/11/70)

The NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund was formally incorporated in Washington, D.C. (03/16/70)

NOW filed sex discrimination charges against Harvard under Executive Order 11375. $3 million dollars in government contracts were delayed for two weeks until the university agreed to submit personnel information on its women employees and students to investigators. (03/25/70)

Alaska repealed its existing abortion law when the state’s legislature voted to over-ride the governor’s veto by 41-17. (04/30/70)

NOW won its public accommodations case in Seidenberg v. McSorley’s Old Ale House. The U. S. Supreme Court ruled that sex discrimination had no foundation in reason and violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. However, the court limited the impact of the decision by applying it only to situations where women had been denied the right to enter a public accommodation “under sufficient control of the state.”(05/26/70)

A three-judge federal panel said that the Texas abortion laws were unconstitutional because they infringed on the fundamental right of single or married women to choose whether or not to have children. The suit was brought by a pregnant single woman, a married couple and a doctor facing two criminal abortion charges. (06/17/70)


NOW opposed the appointment of G. Harrold Carswell to the U.S. Supreme Court, the first time an appointment to the court was ever challenged on the basis of sexism. Betty Friedan, testifying for NOW, cited the case of Mrs. Ida Phillips v. Martin Marietta in which Carswell ruled in favor of the company’s refusal to hire a woman with pre-school age children, while hiring men with pre-school age children. (01/28/70)

Pressure from Los Angeles NOW persuaded Congressman Tom Reese (D-CA) to support the appointment of 16-year-old Monica Mortz as a page in Congress. Historically, only boys had been permitted this opportunity. (02/05/70)

About 20 NOW members, led by Wilma Scott Heide and Jean Witter, disrupted the Senate hearings on the 18-year-old vote to demand hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment. At a signal from Heide the women rose, and unfolded posters they had concealed in their purses. Committee chair Birch Bayh disclosed later that this demonstration prompted the hearings on the ERA held later in the year. (02/17/70)

At the first statewide AFL-CIO Women’s Conference in Wisconsin, 110 women convened to discuss the status of women in unions. Contrary to their union’s policy, they endorsed passage of the ERA and opposed state protective legislation. (03/07/70)

NOW President Aileen Hernandez and NOW member U.S. Representative Shirley Chisholm testified in support of the ERA before the U.S. Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. The last Senate hearings on the ERA had been held in 1956. (05/05/70)

The biennial conference of the American Civil Liberties Union adopted a strong policy recommendation supporting women’s rights. (06/07/70)

Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-MI) successfully filed a discharge petition to get the ERA out of the House Judiciary Committee, where it had been held for years by Rep. Emmanuel Celler. It was only the eighth time in 20 years that this rarely used parliamentary tactic had been used successfully. (06/11/70)

The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 350-15. (08/10/70)

The Backlash

The National Right to Life Committee was established by the Catholic Church to try and block the liberalization of abortion laws. (1970)

At the Democratic Party’s Committee on National Priorities, Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) urged that a high priority be given to establishing women’s rights. Dr. Edgar F. Berman, a long time friend of presidential-aspirant, Hubert H. Humphrey, declared that women were incapable of holding important decision-making jobs because they were subject to “raging hormonal imbalances” as a result of their menstrual cycle and menopause. The outraged protests of NOW and other feminist groups forced Berman to resign from the Committee. (04/30/70)

Happiness of Womanhood (HOW) was organized at Kingman, AZ, by Jacquie Davison and three friends as an anti-women’s liberation movement group. The League of Housewives was also affiliated with HOW. (07/70)

The media generally dismissed the events of August 26, 1970 as a “flop,” trivializing the women’s movement and stereotyping its advocates as ugly manhaters and left-wing radicals.(08/70)

Billy Graham called feminism “an echo of our overall philosophy of permissiveness” in an article in the Ladies Home Journal. He claimed that women didn’t want to be “competitive juggernauts pitted against male chauvinists” and that the role of wife, mother, and homemaker was the appointed destiny of “real womanhood,” according to the Judeo-Christian ethic. (11/70)

Time magazine did a cover story on Kate Millet, declaring that she was probably discredited as a spokesperson for the feminist movement because she had admitted her bisexuality. (12/08/70)

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