CNN anchor discusses working women

CNN Anchor Judy Woodruff urged female students to follow their passion and do what they believe at a speech at GW Tuesday night.

The lecture was the first of the National Panhellenic Conference Foundation’s Distinguished Lecturer Program, which focuses on women and leadership. The National Panhellenic Conference serves as an umbrella organization for 26 women’s fraternities and sororities nationally and internationally.

Woodruff was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority at Duke University.

“Being connected with women of similar interests gave me some bearings and introduced me to a group of friends at Duke,” she said.

Woodruff told about 200 people in Lisner Auditorium that women are on the front line of change.

“Plenty of women are now climbing the ladder of success,” said Woodruff, citing TIME Magazine 2002 people of the year – all women. FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley, former Enron Vice President Sherron Watkins and former WorldCom Vice President Cynthia Cooper were named for their role as “whistle-blowers.”

Despite their increased success in the professional world over the past few decades, women continue to earn less money than their male counterparts and are still not welcome in many places within government, businesses and religious organizations, Woodruff said.

Woodruff, who anchors “Judy Woodruff’s Inside Politics” on CNN, also discussed the importance of voting in the 2004 presidential elections.

“The signal that our country sends by such a low voter turnout … is that Americans don’t care and that we take our country for granted,” she said.

A broadcast journalist, Woodruff advised students that a degree in broadcast journalism is not necessary to pursue a career in the field. She began as a math major at a small college and then transferred to Duke in her junior year, where she majored in political science.

“Study as much liberal arts as you can … and figure out what really interests you,” she said.

The University’s Panhellenic Association applied for a grant from the National Panhellenic Council last year and received it in January. Tuesday’s event cost $10,000.

“We’re excited that (the) Panhellenic (Association) is bringing leaders to campuses and that a member of our sorority was chosen as the first representative,” said junior Katie Barrios, president of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

Marie Hughes, assistant program coordinator for Greek Affairs, said Woodruff was chosen as a speaker because she is an accomplished alumna of a Greek-letter organization and could “break the stereotypes people have about (Greek-letter) life.”

Many students in attendance said they enjoyed Woodruff’s speech.

“Woodruff’s passion for politics is really inspiring to me as a person who hopes to pursue a career in broadcast journalism,” sophomore Sarah Lovenheim said. “She is a true role model.”

“I am a fan of ‘Inside Politics,’ so I decided to come hear her speak despite the subject matter,” senior John Mezey said.

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