Mary Kay Blakely

These three leaders taught the rest of the women that you should be proud to be a feminist, but there is no such thing as an overnight conversion. You’ve got to learn what this means before you get to call yourself a feminist, and it’s not easy.

— Mary Kay Blakely

Mary Kay Blakely

While writing for Ms. Magazine, Mary Kay Blakely heard much about JAWS from her colleagues. Once she finally decided to attend camp, it enthralled her to meet inspirational women who showed strong support for one another. She has since been a member for more than two decades and especially appreciates that female journalists from across the nation gather annually to debate on various topics of interest to women. More than providing a safe venue for discussions, JAWS has enriched her professional and social life.

Growing up in a Catholic family in Chicago, Mary Kay’s desire was to become a writer and a high school English teacher. She continued on the conservative path during the 1970s, residing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and becoming a mother. Although motherhood naturally creates many life changes, in her case, it made her an accidental journalist. The editor of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette heard Mary Kay speak on her heartfelt experiences as a new mom and invited her to be a weekly columnist. In addition, the editor offered lots of encouragement and, five years later, sent her columns to The New York Times, where she became a “Hers” columnist while still in Fort Wayne. From there, many doors were opened to her: freelance work for various publications; the publication of several books; and faculty positions at Indiana University, the New School of Research in New York City, and since 1997, a full-time professorship at the Missouri School of Journalism until her retirement.

This oral history interview with Mary Kay, which lasted more than three hours, took place at the Missouri School of Journalism on October 3, 2013.

( This interview was conducted by Yong Volz )