New York Times columnist Gail Collins speaks on women’s roles through history

Madlin Mekelburg

Gail Collins, New York Times columnist and author, outlined how women’s roles in society have changed over her lifetime in the 2013 Liz Carpenter Lecture on Monday evening.

Collins primarily discussed the changing rights and roles of women in society and said she is still in awe of the fact that the majority of these changes took place during her lifetime.          

“This change took generations of women who were not afraid to be laughed at or to fight,” Collins said. “I came one second after them, and I saw the benefits of their persistence.”  

Michael Stoff, director of the Plan II Honors Program, introduced Collins and discussed the history of the Liz Carpenter Lectureship, which was established in 1984 to commemorate the life and accomplishments of Liz Carpenter, a trend-setting journalist, feminist and political adviser. The speaker is selected every year by the Carpenter Lecture Committee.

Collins spoke about one of her books, “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.” 

“The Carpenter lecture traditionally has been about news makers, people who are prominent in the news and society today,” said Phillip Dubov, the staff coordinator for the event and Alumni Relations and Development specialist of the Plan II Honors Program. “We want to bring these people to our campus for our students to interact with.”

Journalism sophomore Will Cobb said he was surprised when Collins admitted she faced very few challenges as a female journalist.

“I expected her to talk more about issues she faced,” Cobb said. “I was surprised when she said the real work was done before she came into the business.”

Business freshman Samira Nounou said she attended the event as extra credit for her sociology class, but a lecture she heard earlier in the week had her interested in experiencing a different viewpoint. 

“I was interested to hear a speaker with a liberal perspective, because I recently went to another lecture and the speaker expressed a more conservative opinion,” Nounou said.

Collins also spoke about the future of journalism and what young journalists can expect from a constantly changing industry.

“I firmly believe that when there is a drastic change in the physical way people write, it changes not only the facility in which you write, but they way you write,” Collins said.