Women have been a part of television news since its inception, but only recently have women held prominent positions as news anchors in the United States. Let’s take a look at how female news anchors have evolved over the years and the obstacles they’ve had to overcome to gain equal footing with their male counterparts.
In 1950, Barbara Walters became one of the first female news anchors when she joined NBC’s Today show. She left in 1976 for ABC and made history again by becoming the first female co-anchor on primetime television. Other notable early trailblazers include Mary Margaret McBride, who was the first woman to host her own daily radio talk show in 1932, and Nancy Dickerson, who became CBS’s first female correspondent in 1960.
The Early Years (the 1960s-1970s)
The 1960s marked a significant era for broadcast journalism—it was during this decade that professional female reporters first started appearing on television screens across America. One such example is Christine Craft, who became a television anchorperson in Kansas City in 1981 after working as a radio disc jockey for several years prior. However, when viewers began to respond unfavorably to her appearance and age, she was quickly replaced by another woman who had been deemed “more attractive” and “younger-looking” than Craft.
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In response to this incident, Craft sued her former employer and won a sizeable settlement—a victory that paved the way for other female journalists to follow suit and pursue careers in broadcasting without fear of discrimination or harassment. Following this landmark case, female broadcasters began to appear regularly on network television news programs throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
The Modern Era (1980s-Present)
As technology advanced throughout the 1980s, so did opportunities for female journalists—particularly those specializing in hard news reporting positions as opposed to purely entertainment-related roles like weather broadcasting or hosting game shows. During this period, prominent female journalists like Diane Sawyer (ABC), Connie Chung (CBS), Jane Pauley (NBC), Judy Woodruff (CNN), and Barbara Walters (ABC) began making regular appearances on broadcast news programs across America and setting records for viewership along with them. This influx of female talent revolutionized broadcast journalism by providing viewers with an unprecedented level of diversity among their favorite on-air personalities—a trend that continues today as more women enter the field with each passing year.
Today, women are firmly entrenched as key players within the world of broadcast journalism—and it all began with groundbreaking figures like Christine Craft who fought against discrimination to create new opportunities for aspiring female reporters everywhere. As it stands now, there are countless talented women working both behind and in front of cameras at networks across America—all thanks to pioneers like Craft who paved the way for generations of professional broadcasters to come after them. It’s truly inspiring!