A Century Of Victories

View of the Clichy-sous-Bois market set up around the wreckage of two burnt cars, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005, east of Paris. French President Jacques Chirac called for calm and a firm hand Wednesday in response to six nights of rioting in Paris' troubled suburbs, warning of a "dangerous situation.". AP

As we head toward the year 2000, Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes looks at how far women have come in the 20th century and what challenges they still face.


Sold-out stadiums with fans screaming for a bunch of female soccer players -- what a way to end a century that began when women couldn't even vote.

Fans shouted, "Brandi! Brandi!" for Brandi Chastain of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team.

"I can't tell you how many women from the ages of 40 to 75 that have hugged me and said 'God bless you for putting women on the map.' I, in turn, look at them and say 'Thank you for all the battles you had to do before I even came along,'" said Chastain.

The mother of all battles ended in 1920 when men finally agreed to let the other half vote and for the rest of the century women have been breaking down barriers and breaking records.

In 1926, the first woman to swim the English Channel was a 19-year-old girl from America named Gertrude Ederle.

Thousands cheered Ederle's accomplishment and gave her a ticker tape parade. But the reception was different when marchers demanded rights for all women. Many on the sidelines stopped cheering.

"Females are supposed to stay home, have kids, and keep the house clean," said a man watching a march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1977.

As a leader of the women's movement in the 1970s, Gloria Steinem was on the front lines.

"To celebrate how far we have come is not at all to say we don't have to go further. On the contrary, it's a gathering of strength. And if we look backward, if we get discouraged about where we are now--which of course we do--then we need only to look backward and see how far we've come," says Steinem.

Here's how far-- there are women in Congress, in the space program, heading the State Department, on the Supreme Court. It is no longer a man's world. But the top jobs in corporate America still almost always go to men.

"Immigrant groups and outsiders have had to start their own businesses in order to break through economically. And I'm sure that's why women are now starting their own businesses at three times the rate of men," said Steinem.

But it's the same in politics. At the end of the 20th century "the" top job in America is still out of reach.

"I think what we've done is pave the way for the person who WILL be the first woman president," said former presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole.

But will that happen any time soon? Maybe not. According to a new CBS News poll, less than half -- only 48 percent -- think the country is ready for a woman president but in the most surprising finding in the poll two-thirds of both men and women now say they have a favorable opinion of the women's movement.

Steinem says women still don't have equality. "No definitely not. We've convinced most of the country that women can do what men can do. And this is a bi victory. But we haven't even begun to convince them that men can do what women can do. Until men are raising babies and cooking and doing the human maintenance work as much as women are, women won't be equal." For more from the interview with Steinem, click here.

The image of Brandi Chastain on the cover of Newsweek captured the exuberance of a great moment in history.

"I really want people to understand that was a celebration," says Chastain.

It was a celebration of a century of victories and a symbol of a new era when power is no longer just a guy thing.

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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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