Events & exhibitions
event • Conferences & Symposia

Fifty Years after The Feminine Mystique

  • Tuesday, November 19, 2013
  • Knafel Center (formerly Radcliffe Gymnasium)
    10 Garden Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138
Cover of "The Feminine Mystique"
Photo by Kevin Grady

Two notable scholars will look back at Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and consider whether movement toward equality has persisted or stalled since the book was published in 1963. What has changed in roles at home and at work? How has law figured in the balance? Do we have new mystiques today?

The papers of Betty Friedan, documenting her public and personal life—including her family, her career in journalism, and work as an activist—are among the holdings of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute, available for researchers’ use. The extensive (and continually updated) records of the National Organization for Women, which Friedan cofounded and led during its formative years, are also at the library.

An exhibit of selected items from the Friedan papers will be on view in the library during a reception following the speakers’ panel. The exhibit, It Changed My Life: The Feminine Mystique at Fifty, emphasizes the writing and reception of The Feminine Mystique, and it also honors the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.


Stephanie Coontz teaches at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and serves as the director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of family researchers and practitioners based at the University of Miami. Her most recent book is A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

Ariela Dubler, the George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History at Columbia Law School, writes and teaches in the areas of constitutional law, family law, and legal history. She is currently writing a book, "The Parental Difficulty," about the ways that the law has contributed to our understandings of mothers’ and fathers’ roles at home and at work.

Nancy F. Cott, the Pforzheimer Family Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library and the Jonathan Trumbull Professor of History at Harvard, will introduce the event and the panelists.

Event Video

Cover of

Fifty Years after The Feminine Mystique

Two notable scholars, Stephanie Coontz and Ariela Dubler, look back at Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and consider whether movement toward equality has persisted or stalled since the book was published in 1963.

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