Our Mission & History

AWJ Chicago supports women in journalism and promotes the respectful treatment of women by the news media. We are a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization.
AWJ Chicago is comprised of working journalists, academics and students from national, local and regional news outlets and all the major journalism schools in the area. It includes women and people of all genders involved in every aspect of the business and across all mediums.
The first Association for Women Journalists-Dallas-Ft. Worth, was founded in 1988 by a group of women objecting to a demeaning promotional campaign for a local newspaper. Female employees of the paper petitioned to halt the ads but were largely ignored. The lack of response to their requests pointed to the need for an organization to help improve media representation of women and to improve the position of women employed by the industry so that similar incidents would not occur in the future. The first meeting to discuss the employees' outrage was the start of something much bigger. Most of the Texas women belonged to the Journalism and Women Symposium, national professional organization that meets once a year. They fashioned their group after the JAWS model and scaled the group's events for the local environment.
Chicago's AWJ chapter was started in 1993 and fashioned after the Dallas-Ft.Worth group. Our first meeting was organized by Michelle Stevens, Cindy Richards, Susy Schultz, Mary Galligan and Adrienne Drell. It was held at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, thanks to Mary Dedinsky, who opened the school's doors to us. The meeting attracted more than 60 women'more than half of whom handed over $25 checks to become the group's founding members. Over the years, the Chicago chapter has grown along with other AWJ chapters.