When Cokie Roberts started her journalism career in 1964, it was OK for news outlets to not hire women as reporters simply because they were women. Then working as researchers or fact checkers, women employed at news media giants like Newsweek and the New York Times filed lawsuits against their bosses to be able to get their bylines on their articles.
Obviously a lot has changed, as Roberts is now a regular contributor to NPR’s “Morning Edition,” analyst for ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” and a frequent guest on other programs and networks. But things need to change more, she says.
“Even today, in 2017, there are a lot of women who hold back,” Roberts says,noting there is still a pay gap, even though women make up the majority of college graduates and even more graduate students.
Later this month, Roberts will speak to Women Leading Kentucky’s 18th Annual Business and Leadership Conference, a one-day event that provides women with sessions to improve leadership skills and network among other professional women.
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Roberts said she thinks it’s great that Women Leading Kentucky provides scholarships, a network and other opportunities to professional women in Kentucky.
On the current national women’s movement, Roberts said she didn’t participate in the January Women’s March but thought it was great. “The Day without a Woman” was a nice idea but was “impractical,” Roberts said.
“Anything that encourages participation, I applaud,” Roberts said.
Roberts said WEKU-FM 88.9, Eastern Kentucky University’s public radio outlet, asked her to attend the conference, as the station is sponsoring the conference. Carol Siler, Women Leading Kentucky’s executive director, said she expects Roberts to be a good speaker because of her range of life experience and her books on female leaders.
Siler said the organization will recognize at their luncheon winners of the Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award for their business and community achievements. The recipients are Dr. Ardis Hoven, past president of the American Medical Association and chair of the World Medical Association, and Danielle Clore, executive director and CEO of the Kentucky Nonprofit Network.
Janet Holloway, founder of Women Leading Kentucky, had a vision for women to have a place to meet other professional women, Siler said. In Holloway’s day, Siler said, men could network at clubs and golf outings, but women had to forge their own way. WLK is a non-membership club for this reason, she said. The only cost is to pay for tickets to certain events.
“We’ve made strides (in the corporate world), but we still have more strides to make,” Siler said. “And I think that’s where Women Leading Kentucky comes in because we help empower women to reach those goals.”
If you go
18th annual Women’s Business and Leadership Conference
What: Women Leading Kentucky’s one-day conference that allows women to network while learning about leadership skills.
When: Tuesday, May 16, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Griffin Gate Marriot Resort & Spa, 1800 Newtown Pike, Lexington, KY
Tickets: $145 per person for whole day