Ann Fudge, President of Kraft, talks about how books truely influenced her life.
I grew up in Washington, D.C., in the sixties, when so much was happening—the Civil Rights movement, the beginnings of the feminist movement. When I read Katharine Graham's memoir, Personal History, I couldn't help but compare her experiences in the workforce to mine nearly three decades later.
I especially loved reading about Graham's evolution as viewed against the backdrop of the women's movement. After nearly two decades of devoting herself to family and raising children, Graham lost her husband and reluctantly took his place as president of the Washington Post Company, a position of immense power.
When Graham started out, women were just coming into their own in the business world—it would be years before she had any female colleagues on the boards of the American Newspaper Publishers Association and the Associated Press. Graham explains that despite her unique position, she felt unconnected to the women's movement.
You can sense Graham becoming more confident as the book progresses. Acknowledging her dependence on men such as Ben Bradlee (former executive editor of the Washington Post) and Warren Buffett (chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and a Post shareholder), she describes how she made some tough decisions—including handling the pressmen's strike that nearly shut down the paper in 1975 and supporting the editors when the government was applying pressure not to publish the Watergate stories. As a woman in business, I think that if it weren't for people like Graham who pushed forward at a time when there were few women in corporate America, we wouldn't be where we are today.
What's on Ann Fudge's Bookshelf? Read more!
From the May 2001 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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