Katharine Graham is an essential part of the history of American journalism, especially for women. Her parents bought The Washington Post when she was just sixteen years old. She began working for the Post in 1938 at the age of 21. In 1946, her husband Philip Graham became the head publisher of the Post. Graham dealt with many issues including alcoholism and mental illness and could not overcome these issues leading to his suicide in 1963. Katharine took charge of the company after her husbands death and was head of the Post from 1963 onward. She was chairman of the board from 1973 to 1991. In 1972, Katharine Graham became the first female Fortune 500 CEO as the CEO of the Washington Post company. Because she was the only woman with such a high position in this field, she struggled with being taken seriously by her male colleagues and employees. In her memoir published in 1997, she discusses the lack of confidence she had in herself which stemmed from a bad relationship with her mother who was very negative and condescending towards her for most of her childhood. Although Katharine suffered from self confidence issues, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her memoir in 1998 and is a role model for women everywhere, especially aspiring female journalists.
Katharine was in charge of the Post during one of the most important times in American history: the Watergate scandal. The Post was crucial in unveiling the details of this scandal which eventually led to President Nixon’s resignation. The fact that a female was in charge of a paper was shocking during this time period, let alone during one of America’s most famous scandals. Katharine Graham is proof that you can overcome bad situations and be successful no matter what. She was an advocate for gender equality in her company and in journalism and she has paved the way for many female journalists and publishers who have come after her.