The “Women’s Pages” were sections of newspapers aimed solely at women readers, much as the sports sections today are devoted to sports lovers. They began in metropolitan newspapers after the Civil War to provide news geared to department store advertising. Although a few men worked on them, most women’s sections were staffed by women reporters who received lower pay and had less prestige than male journalists. Their content tended to follow the four F’s – family, fashion, furnishings, and food – and to picture women in stereotypical roles as wives and mothers using advertised products. Wives of prominent men often were featured. Detailed accounts of social events, particularly weddings of middle-and upper-class women, appeared in women’s and related society pages.
Sometimes, however, women’s pages carried articles on women’s activities and organizations, enabling women to network in the public sphere. During World War II the U.S. government targeted women’s pages for news releases urging women to support the war effort and take defense jobs. As the top woman correspondent for the Associated Press, Ruth Cowan wrote many stories on women in the military aimed at the women’s pages. These news articles represented the “women’s angle,” the term used for content that featured women as subordinate figures in main news narratives. Most newspapers phased out women’s pages in the 1960s and 1970s in response to the women’s liberation movement, which contended news about women should not be confined to special sections but run throughout newspapers. Many women’s pages were turned into lifestyle sections.