Part II – 1974

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


At the Seventh NOW National Conference in Houston, Karen DeCrow was elected president and Judith Lightfoot, chair of the board. Resolutions were passed calling for the impeachment of President Nixon and another calling for the resignation of NASA’s administrator because of unfair practices in hiring and promotion of women and minorities and asking for an investigation of NASA’s equal employment opportunity program. (05/25-27/74)

In Geduldig vs. Aiello the Supreme Court ruled that excluding pregnancy coverage from the list of compensable disabilities under the California Disability plan did not constitute sex discrimination. (1974)

The first U.S. woman police officer to be killed in the line of duty was Gail Cobb, 24, a Black member of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, shot pursuing a holdup suspect into a down-town parking garage. The National Association of Chiefs of Police estimated there were 6,694 women among the nation’s 266,839 full-time police officers. (09/20/74)

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia provided unrestricted Medicaid payments for abortions during the first trimester. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia paid for all legal abortions under their Medicaid plans. Five of these states did so voluntarily, five by court orders to do so. Two more states provided unrestricted funds for first trimester abortions, while an additional two states had consultation requirements in all three trimesters. (10/74)

Under a new law signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, any California retail store could sell condoms, but sale by vending machines was still prohibited. In 1973, Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill easing restrictions on the sale of prophylactics because he believed “indiscriminate access to prophylactics would not be in the public interest.” (09/26/74)

Prodded by the threat of impeachment, President Richard Nixon resigned, the first American President in history to do so. (08/08/74) He was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford who later chose Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President. (08/20/74) Subsequently, President Ford issued an unconditional pardon for all crimes Nixon may have committed in office. (09/16/74)


Columbus, OH, passed an ordinance outlawing discrimination based on sexual orienta-tion in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. (01/74)

Over 1,000 women attended a New York State Conference on Marriage and Divorce at the Commodore Hotel, New York City, billed as the first such conference in the world. It was sponsored by the New York State Chapters of NOW, with the assistance of the New York State Women’s Unit of the Governor’s Office in planning the conference. (01/19-20/74)

NOW’s National Conference paid special tribute to the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The WASP flew 50 million miles during World War II and 38 lost their lives on duty. They received no military benefits and even their burial expenses were paid by their families. The event was part of a campaign to help them win military status from the Defense Department. (05/25-27/74)

NOW National Board member John Clegg, one of Los Angeles NOW’s first male members, died of Hodgkinson’s disease while still in his twenties. His wife, Jean Stapleton (not the actress) was L.A. NOW President in the mid-seventies. (1974)

Alfred, NY, passed gay rights anti-discrimination ordinance. (05/74)

After the first suits were brought by NOW in 1973, Little League Baseball, Inc., a federally chartered organization, announced that girls would be eligible to compete in its 9,000 leagues on an equal basis with boys. At the time of the organization’s “voluntary” decision there were 57 lawsuits pending against the Little League because of its “boys only” policy, many of them instituted by chapters of NOW around the country. And Penn-sylvania NOW had picketed its World Series. (06/12/74)

The state Council of Massachusetts NOW sponsored a Conference on Rape. Among the 300 people attending from all over the state were medical and legal professionals, legislators, jurists, police and past and potential victims. Massachusetts NOW called for the immediate establishment of a state commission on rape, support for women’s groups already working on this crime and for legislative reform. Two bills were submitted to the state legislature, strongly supported and assisted by NOW. (06/22/74)

St. Paul, MI, passed a gay rights anti-discrimination ordinance. (07/74)

President Gerald Ford, met with women’s groups after pressure from NOW and other women’s groups for almost two years to secure such a meeting. It was the first time a president of NOW had been invited to the White House. NOW President Karen DeCrow and the presidents of 16 other women’s organizations met with Ford for 58 minutes. (09/74)


Some 1,000 colleges and universities were offering women’s studies courses and over 80 had full-fledged women’s studies programs, some offering bachelor’s degrees in this area of study. A few offered master’s degrees in Women’s Studies. NOW had earlier formed the Committee to promote Women’s Studies. (06/74)

Proposed guidelines for compliance with Title IX (still too weak), were finally released by HEW for public comment, two years after passage of the legislation and only after much pressure from NOW and other concerned organizations. (06/11/74)

NOW, in coalition with other women’s organizations, helped defeat a proposal by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to narrow the scope of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by entirely omitting sports from its coverage. (06/11/74)

Hearings were held by a Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on a bill which would admit women to the Service Academies. Ann Scott, NOW’s vice president/ Legislation, testified for the organization in support of the admission of women. (07/16/74)

NOW LDEF won a $90,000 grant for a project to monitor enforcement of Title IX in elementary and secondary schools. (08/74)

The Educational Equity Act, for which NOW and other feminist organizations had campaigned, passed Congress. The act authorized the Secretary of HEW to develop non-sexist curricula and non-discriminatory vocational and career counseling, sports education, and other programs designed to achieve equity for all students regardless of sex. (08/21/74)


NOW members picketed the U.S. Jaycees national headquarters. Among the picketers was NOW President Wilma Scott Heide, who noted, “The Jaycees accept public funds and public tax advantages yet deny membership to women.” (02/14/74)

In the first industry-wide race and sex discrimination settlement, steel companies settled with the Labor Department to give approximately $56 million in back pay and wage adjustments to 386,000 workers in the steel industry. The NOW National Compliance Task Force and several NOW Chapters in Chicago and Southwestern Pennsylvania had previously initiated actions to improve the status of women in the steel industry. In one negotiation session between Pennsylvania NOW and officials of U.S. Steel Co., the officials stated that management policy was to award fringe benefits differentially on the basis of sex. When NOW representatives pointed out that this was prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, one company officer said, “The law is absurd.” (04/15/74)

In the second settlement in 16 months involving AT&T, the company signed a $30 million consent decree with the EEOC providing back pay and wage adjustments to management employees who were victims of sex discrimination. AT&T and its 24 operating companies agreed to equalize starting salaries for men and women and guarantee that both sexes would receive equal pay in promotions. It provided that AT&T make one-time lump sum payments totaling $7 million to 7,000 Bell System employees who were discriminated against under the Equal Pay Act of 1963. (05/30/74)

Settling another complaint by NOW and minority organizations, Bank of America agreed to pay $10 million in compensatory salary increases to its women employees, and promised to increase its proportion of women officers from 31% to 40% by the end of 1978, with 5.1% at top management levels. Included as well was a provision for a $3 3/4 million trust fund for self-development programs for women employees, for management training, education, travel, and sabbaticals. (05/31/74)

NOW filed suit against the city of Chicago for employment discrimination. (11/18/74)


In an atmosphere of both celebration and conflict, eleven women, including one NOW activist Betty Bone Schiess, were ordained as the first female priests of the Episcopal Church by four bishops challenging the denomination’s rules and practices as well as 2,000 years of male dominance of the Christian priesthood. (07/29/74)

Catholic nuns adopted a resolution calling upon their church to ordain women as priests. The resolution, approved by about 600 nuns, came at a leadership conference made up of most of the women in top posts in Catholic religious orders. The National Leadership Conference of Women Religious thus became the most prestigious body to call for the ordination of women. (08/29/74)


Lenore Hershey became editor of the Ladies Home Journal. She was only the second woman to hold this position in the magazine’s 90-year history. The magazine’s top jobs had always been held by men. NOW had earlier protested to the magazine for its stereotyping of women and its insensitivity to the real problems facing women of all ages and occupations. (01/74)

San Diego (CA) TV station KCST agreed to change its hiring practices after San Diego NOW filed a petition charging discrimination against women. (03/74)

After 30 years of covering Washington for United Press International (UPI), Helen Thomas was named White House reporter for UPI. It was the first time a woman had held such a position. (03/05/74)

Physicist Virginia Carter, Los Angeles NOW President, made a major career switch, and, working with Norman Lear, went on to become the producer of an award-winning documentary. (1974)

Julia Phillips won an Oscar from the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for “The Sting.” This was the first Oscar won by a woman as a movie producer. She shared the award with her husband and Tony Bill. Altogether the film won seven Oscars. (04/74)

RAPE (How to Avoid It And What To Do About It If You Can’t), written by Los Angeles NOW members June Bundy Csida and Joseph Csida hit the stands. It was the first booklength, feminist treatment of the shocking facts about the underreported, underprosecuted crime against women. (1974)

Fresno (CA) NOW filed formal petitions to deny the license renewal applications of KMJ-TV and KFSN-TV with the FCC as well as an informal objection to the license renewal of KJEO-TV. The action was taken after negotiations with station management failed to produce agreement with the chapter’s recommendations. The challenges were made on the station’s failure to: 1) employ women for other than clerical jobs, 2) adequately ascertain needs of women in its service area, and 3) broadcast programs dealing with women’s issues. (11/74)

The Gridiron Club voted to admit women, after 89 years as a male-only club. The club, an association of journalists, was well-known for its “roasting” of political figures in Washington, D.C. (12/74)


Mory’s Tavern, celebrated in “The Wiffenpoof Song” lost its liquor license because it discriminated against women, a practice it had employed since 1861. The Supreme Court ruled that Mory’s failed to meet the legal definition of a club. (02/26/74)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against women receiving disability pay for pregnancy leave in a California case stating that “There is no risk from which men are protected and women are not,”even though men received compensation for disabilities resulting from vasectomies and prostatectomies. (06/17/74)

NOW sued the Democratic Party in several states for sex discrimination. (1974)

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was extended to prohibit discrimination based on sex, in addition to the previously prohibited grounds of race, color, religion, and national origin. (08/02/74)

The constitutional right to privacy includes the decision whether or not to become pregnant and applies equally to single and married people, a three judge federal district court held in striking down a Wisconsin statute which prohibited the sale of contraceptives to unmarried persons. (11/26/74)

The Backlash

The “March for Life” was organized for the first time by Nellie Gray with strong backing from Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus. (1974)

The U.S. Coalition for Life was set up. (1974)

Joseph Coors provided the funds for Paul Weyrich to organize the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress; Richard Viguerie became the organization’s direct mail fundraiser. (1974)

Howard W. Phillips and Richard Viguerie established The Conservative Caucus. (1974)

Militant anti-feminists stormed the speaker’s podium of the Michigan House to protest a committee’s refusal to rescind ERA. “We’ Il get rid of the gun control proposal and then I’ll blow every one of your heads off,” shouted Mrs. Linda Van Steenis. Twenty militants screamed, shook their fists, and then attacked the legislators. Sergeants-at-arms were called into the chamber to disperse the women and protect the legislators. (07/14/74)

Textbooks censors Mel and Norma Gabler convinced the Texas State Board of Education to amend the Textbook Proclamation to promote the teaching of creationism. They also filed 163 objections to 10 reading books up for adoption. Seven of the books were rejected and the Texas Board of Education required extensive changes in the the eighth book. (1974)

The National Conservative Political Action Committee, (NCPAC), was established, headed by John T. (Terry) Dolan, a former member of Young Americans for Freedom. NCPAC became the Right’s tool for political terrorism. (1974)

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council was set up with funds from the Scaife Foundation. The foundation’s funds came from the Mellon family. ALEC opposed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. (1974)

Support eh ERA banner