Friday, June 7, 2013

Journalist Phyllis Richman Corrects the Record -- With Harvard

"Married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers in planning, and hence tend to have some feeling of waste about the time and effort spent in professional education."  That's a fragment of a letter Harvard Professor William Doebele, Jr., wrote to acclaimed journalist, editor, author and restaurant critic Phyllis Richman as she was applying to colleges, Harvard, among them, in 1961.

How very much he underestimated what the young women of that era and what they set out to achieve.  Richman did not ultimately make a career in urban planning, but she distinguished herself in journalism, which she was drawn to as she began raising her family and looking for fulfilling -- and lucrative -- professional work.  Richman eventually became adept at disguising herself as she dined at restaurants throughout greater Washington, DC, testing their offerings and writing up her findings for The Washington Post. A Richman review could make a restaurateur's day or send him or her home with a migraine, or worse.

Richman has now answered Doebele, not unkindly, but firmly, in an essay that is worth sharing widely.  Here it is.

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