Righting the record: Firsts among women

Although WPC, formerly known as Wichita Press Women, was reincorporated in 1973, it was established in 1950 when women had a tough time breaking into important roles in communications. We are proud of our “firsts,” including these outstanding members and many more to be reported.

  • Dorothy Belden was the first female editorial writer at The Wichita Eagle and Beacon. She also served as the first president of the Kansas Women’s Political Caucus.
  • Beth Bower (2010 WPC president) as a young woman in the U.S. Air Force was the first female helicopter mechanic in the Tactical Air Command and the second female helicopter mechanic in the entire Air Force. She later earned an English degree, emphasizing creative writing and journalism, and went on to careers in magazines and newspapers, including The Wichita Eagle.
  • Emily Christensen is the first WPC member to be named a fellow of the National Critics Institute. She is an arts writer at Wichita State and recently hosted the podcast “Feminist Foremothers.” Created for mama.film’s Beyond Film programming for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, the series offers an in-depth look at Carry Nation, Hattie McDaniel and (coming soon) Rosie the Riveter.
  • Donna Dilsaver (1973 WPW president) was the first female sports reporter at The Eagle, which hired her as a stringer while she was a student at Goddard High School.

– Shannon Littlejohn, WPC historian

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