50 years of the Guardian’s women’s pages

The Guardian’s women’s page celebrates its 50th anniversary today. The women’s section takes over the G2 supplement for a special edition, packed with articles dug out of the archive and musings on its history, purpose and usefulness.

The current editor, Kira Cochrane, gives her own answer to the question ‘do we need the women’s pages?’:

While ‘women’s stories’ do make the news pages, men still dominate – and they account for 80% of MPs, 89% of high court judges, and 97% of the Chief Executives of FTSE 100 companies. If the women’s pages – which now run on two days a week – were the only place to showcase ‘women’s’ stories the ghetto argument would be more than fair. In fact though what they now provide is simply a guaranteed space, a space that persists and provides at least some balance on those days when every single major news story pivots around a bloke.

It’s a fascinating contrast to this piece by the first editor of the women’s pages, Mary Scott, who suggests that the page provides room to cover the “occupational interest of home-making, which concerns almost every woman born”. It just goes to show how much the women’s section has changed: although Scott does go on to list some “home-making” concerns that might resonate even today, such as the shortage of places at nursery schools and opposition to nuclear testing (women still oppose all things nuclear in far greater numbers than men).

The selection available charts the women’s pages progress through the second wave, Margaret Thatcher, the Clintons, right up to Julie Bindel’s article last year, confessing that she if she were raped today, she would not report the crime to the police.