Broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff, Women’s College ’68, spoke about the changing role of women in the workplace at the Campus Club Centennial Luncheon Monday.
Woodruff was recently named co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, following years of covering politics and national news for CNN, NBC and PBS. She served on the Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1997 and has taught at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Earlier this year, she was announced as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment.
“Women today have more choices than they have ever had, more opportunities,” Woodruff said. “At the same time, we recognize the trade-offs to take advantage of those choices haven’t really gotten a whole lot easier.”
Woodruff cited prominent examples of female professional leadership in her speech—such as the recent bipartisan push by Congressional women to end the government shutdown. She noted that although the workplace has become significantly more accepting of women over the past few decades, women in management positions are still the exception and not the rule.
“Women continue to confront a glass ceiling as they get closer and closer to the highest, most powerful jobs,” Woodruff said.
She discussed the challenges she faced as a working mother, recalling how she reported from the White House the day she gave birth to her first son.
“There were plenty of things that I missed when my children were growing up, that I would love to take a clock and turn time back and do it over again,” Woodruff said. “But you make decisions and you move ahead, and that’s what I did.”
The luncheon was the first of a monthly series that the Campus Club—a group that brings together Duke-affiliated women—will be holding this year to commemorate its 100th anniversary, said Club president Pela Gereffi. The centennial’s theme is “Honoring Women in a Century of Change.”
“We were looking for women who represent the theme of our centennial,” said Karen Childers, Women’s College ’70 and the chair of the Campus Club centennial committee. “[Woodruff] is the perfect embodiment.”
The centennial serves as an appropriate point for reflection about both the gains women have made and the areas for further progress, Woodruff noted.
“As you celebrate your 100th year, as you think about how this club has evolved and changed and about how the role of women has changed—at Duke, in North Carolina, in the United States and around the globe—we can also think about the challenges that still lie ahead," Woodruff said.