AWC Timeline: 1970s
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began with more “firsts” by Theta Sigma Phi members. Jean Pearson, a science writer, became the first female reporter to go to the South Pole. Helen Thomas, White House correspondent for United Press International, was the only female print reporter to accompany President Richard Nixon on his landmark trip to China.
Pictured right: AWC’s 75th anniversary celebration.
Theta Sigma Phi members discovered that the organization’s greek letters limited their acceptance as a professional organization. At the 1972 conference, delegates voted to change the organization’s name from Theta Sigma Phi to Women in Communications, Inc. (WICI) Theta Sig founders Georgina MacDougall Davis and Irene Durham sent their approval of the change, since “the original concepts for the society held strong and true.” At the same conference the members decided to admit men for the first time as full members rather than as honorary members.
In 1973, WICI established the National Awards Program, which was later renamed the Clarion Awards in 1974. The program was designed to recognize excellence in all areas of communications, to provide incentive for further achievement and to demonstrate the role of communications in dealing with current issues.
Clearly the biggest challenge of the ‘70s was women’s rights. Recent laws and Supreme Court decisions led business and industry to hire men and women on an equal basis. However, women were not being promoted at the same rate as men. Many members were reluctant to join the movement because they had fought long and hard to be recognized as journalists, not female journalists. Finally, after much discussion, WICI threw its support behind the struggle to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
In 1979, in partnership with 11 other communications organizations, WICI founds the First Amendment Congress, which works to preserve First Amendment Rights.