msnbc News   |  March 18, 2012

Newsweek looks at 1960's working women

Msnbc's Alex Witt talks to Newsweek's Eleanor Clift about her front page article about 'Mad Men' and working women.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> in one week, i will be popular and much anticipated season premiere of the tv series "mad men" airs tonight. that's not until next sunday. today, however, i'm here to tell you about a fascinating new article that seizes upon the success of that show and takes a look at working women in the 1960s world of "mad men." it shows stark difference prosecutors the workplace then and now. and it is the cover story of this week's " newsweek " magazine "mad men and working women." the article's author and " newsweek " contributing ted tore and owner is joining me today. hello. about to say this morning. that's when used to do. good to sigh, eleanor.

>> good to be here.

>> you say that don draper would have felt right at home at news week in the 1960s . why is that?

>> well, i started at " newsweek " as a secretary in the 1960s . so i know of what i speak. and the -- smoking and drinking and i will say carousing, i don't know if we use that word anymore, that happened at " newsweek " as well. the cigarette smoking , i think -- people today look at it and can't believe it. but in the '60s before the surgeon general's report, people thought smoking was good for you. in fact, the public high school i went to in queens let us out for a smoking break.

>> wow.

>> drinking, i interviewed one writer who was at " newsweek " during that period and he described the martinis being served in glasses the size of birth baths. it was -- it was a very different culture. it was quite a bit of fraternization.

>> that's interesting, very delicate way to phrase it. let me ask you specifically your role as a secretary at " newsweek " magazine, you say you can really identify with peggy olson. were there specifics about the way you were treated as you sat there outside? presumably some man's office?

>> to be honest, i was not filled with frustration. i came from my -- my parents were immigrants. lived in queens. i-didn't graduate from college. and i was thrown in with a group of women who were researchers at news week and they were all graduates of the seven sisters colleges. i remember they had all been to your open. and they would talk about their therapist. it was like a world i had never seen. they were very frustrated. they ultimately brought a lawsuit against the magazine for gender discrimination. that would be several years later. so i, frankly, have said many times over the years that i was just grateful to be where what i typed was interesting. i didn't really realize that there were all these other opportunities that were about to happen and when these women who filed the lawsuit, they argued my case at the time because i was doing reporting and i was being recognized for it but they really opened -- they really opened the doors. and it was that kind of pressure that i think "mad men" shows to some extent that it started in very ordinary small ways and really didn't blossom for many years later. that whole decade of -- of the early '60s led to these -- what we think of the revolution, civil rights , anti-war and certainly women's revolution.

>> all of this is what is being addressed in this sort of '60s themed magazine this week which is cool 2508ly. a lot of found see. may i ask you about your discussion with matt, the show's creator, and what we can expect in terms of the show.

>> he's very protective of any story lines or particular incidents. he's very good at keeping the su suspense. he did say betty draper, really now don draper 's ex-wife, and who is defined by her dissatisfaction like so many women of the times she had a fine education and worked for a brief time and then she was home raising children and was unhappy and didn't know why. he says she's not going to open a book and decide she is a feminist but said she may enlightenment in other ways opini. i think that the -- the daughter, sally draper, who is now 12, she's now the daughter of divorced parents and is now living in a world that's changing very rapidly. i imagine she is going to provide some good story lines as they -- "mad men" echo it is coming revolution.

>> absolutely. her role was being picked up last season so i can see that coming as well. great chatting with you. good to i so you. thank you.

>> same here. thank you.