Gail Collins knows her women's history

The New York Times columnist will be in San Francisco for the National Kidney Foundation’s annual Author’s Luncheon on Saturday. She recently finished her latest book, “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present.”

You’ve finished two books about the history of women — the latest spans the last five decades, the other spans 400 years. I was working on the first book, and it suddenly hit me that the limitations against women have existed for centuries and millennia, and it all fell apart in my lifetime. So when I got through 400 years I knew I had run out of space and I would have to revisit the ’60s in another book.

Which was more challenging to write? This one was more difficult. Even though I was around for the ’60s, I found it amazing to relive it. For example, there was an airplane service that was for men only. The men would kick back and smoke cigars and the women who worked on the plane were trained to … light cigars for the men.

What is the biggest challenge facing women today? We’ve gotten to the point where women constitute half the work force but we haven’t dealt with who takes care of the kids when they’re working.

When are we going to see a woman president? The women who had been through the movement in the ’60s saw that as a holy grail and when Hillary Clinton lost, there was a lot of anger. [Clinton] got people to believe it could happen. Once people believe it can be done, you’ve already won.

 

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