navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Betty Friedan 1921–2006
Writer and Women's Rights Leader

As a suburban New York housewife and mother, Betty Friedan felt that American culture did not offer women the same opportunities as men. She wondered if other women felt the same way. In 1954, she decided to find out by asking her fellow Smith College graduates about their lives.

Friedan published her findings in 1963, in a book called The Feminine Mystique. Women across the country read Friedan's book. It became a national bestseller and sparked the women's movement for equal rights.

Friedan stepped into a new role as a leader of the women's movement. In 1966, she helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW). She was its first elected president. NOW fights against the prejudice that women face in the workplace and in politics. For the rest of her life, Friedan continued to work for the equal treatment of all people.

Comprehension Check

What effect did The Feminine Mystique have on the women's movement?

Critical Thinking

What problems did Betty Friedan try to solve?