Formatted as a newspaper with the content, graphics, and photography of a magazine, Vermont Woman has a circulation of 10,000, and a readership of 24,000 statewide. It is available free, on news stands throughout the state, and by subscription to homes and businesses in Vermont and beyond.
Vermont Woman features the voices of columnists and feature writers, nationally syndicated columnists, and a host of guest opinion and editorial writers. Our goal is to develop the voices of Vermont writers, bringing them to our readers four times a year, as trusted friends and valued advisers.
THE STORY OF VERMONT WOMAN
Vermont Woman's Publisher, Sue Gillis is a long time resident of Vermont moving here from Connecticut in 1973. She is a UVM graduate with major in political science and has worked for numerous media outlets including daily, weekly and monthly newspapers, magazines, radio and television prior to starting her own business, Vermont Woman Newspaper in 1985. Sue has an unwavering belief in the equality of the women and men: economically, personally, politically and socially. Sue understood the power of a woman-owned and staffed newspaper, to provide a public forum for women to share their own opinions, experiences, history and stories, written from their own voices.
For a period spanning over thirty years Vermont Woman has been a significant part of the Vermont media, has profiled hundreds of women, added to the public and political discourse on issues of concern to women. Vermont Woman newspaper is recognized as one of the best newspapers of its kind in both New England and Vermont, and is now the longest continuously published women’s newspaper in Vermont, New England and the entire country.
Sue Gillis is the Founding Publisher and General Manager of four start-up newspapers including the monthly award-winning Vermont Woman Newspaper 1985-present; and two weeklies; the Provincetown Banner and Vermont Times.
Sue’s responsibilities include the conception, fundraising and creation of each publication followed by administrative, personnel, marketing, public relations and financial management. In addition, Sue is the hands on manager of advertising, editorial, production, marketing, web development and distribution for every issue.
THE NEWSPAPER STORY
Vermont Woman first published in 1985, coincidently the same time period that the first woman was elected Governor of Vermont, Madeleine Kunin. It was an exciting time for women in Vermont.
In 1990, Gillis merged Vermont Woman with the Vanguard Press to create a new community weekly, Vermont Times, which she sold in 1994.
Gillis then became the Founding Publisher of the weekly, the Provincetown Banner (Massachusetts), which in its first year won Best Weekly in New England. Sue then sold the Banner and moved back to Vermont.
In 2003, in response to strong public interest, Sue restarted Vermont Woman, this time with a compelling new design and editorial focus to reflect the rapidly changing lives of women in the 21st century and has been publishing ever since.
Vermont Woman has won every conceivable award, including for several years, New England Newspaper of the Year Award, by the New England Newspaper and Press Association, the Oscars in newspaper world. Vermont Woman also won multiple General Excellence Awards for in Writing, Photography and Design. Members of the Vermont Woman staff are also recipients of numerous awards from the Vermont Press Association, competing with 38 weeklies.
Gillis was honored to be inducted into the New England Newspaper and Press Association Hall of Fame in 2010, one of only four women to be so honored at the time.
On March 7, 2018 Gillis receive the Vermont International Women’s Day Award for her distinguished work in ensuring the rights of women and girls to lead secure, creative, healthy and free lives through her work as publisher of Vermont Woman for over thirty years. Gillis is also a recipient of the Vermont YWCA Susan B Anthony award.
THE BIRTH OF VERMONT WOMAN NEWSPAPER IN 1985
So why did Sue start Vermont Woman in 1985? Remember that in 1985, the idea of a woman owned and controlled and staffed newspaper was somewhat sensational and practically revolutionary. It just was not done. Newspapers and all other forms of media radio and television networks were owned by men (and mostly still are). Men chose the articles and features and news and cultural stories; slanting them all from a male perspective. Women’s voices were either entirely absent or relegated to the society pages.
The sixties, seventies and eighties were in fact a revolutionary awakening period for women.
Some call this period the second wave of feminism (the first was the long 80 year period up to 1920, when women finally won the right to vote.
Following WWII women began to demand more equal treatment, which finally resulted in legalization of contraception and use of the birth control pill in 1963 and passage of the Roe v Wade legalizing abortion 1973, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Voting Act, etc.
Throughout the sixties and seventies, the Vietnam War raged on, and the fight for civil rights for blacks, disabled, gays and women raged on. Job and education opportunities remained limited and many other issues were not addressed.
However, some changes taking place. In the seventies Vermont women started their own Women’s Health Center, Battered Women’s Shelters, and the Women’s Rape Crisis Center.
But by the the mid- eighties Ronald Regan was President, AIDS was a full blown epidemic, women’s reproductive rights were in again in jeopardy, and a ground swell of millions of women had enough! They marched, they wrote letters and books and magazine articles. They ran for public office. They formed conscious-raising groups. They began telling the truth about their lives to each other, some out loud for the first time. Women were finding their own voices at last.
Women began to publicly demand equal pay for equal work, childcare assistance, at home sharing of child rearing and mundane household tasks, and control over their own health issues including reproductive health choices, laws against on the job sexual harassment and police protection and response to domestic violence. The Equal Rights Amendment was voted on in every state, and sadly defeated, even in Vermont. And women especially wanted equal access to job and education opportunities. It’s hard to remember that in the mid- eighties, only thirty years ago, it was rare to find a women lawyers, doctors, engineers, mathematicians, college professors, military personnel, carpenters etc. Those doors were closed to women.
It was in this atmosphere that Vermont Woman was born.
We at Vermont Woman believed that women had a unique point of view on just about every issue, a perspective that often was different from men (ie: war, health, children, work) and could be successful in any educational or job path they chose, that they were entitled to legal protection from sexual abuse of all kinds, both verbal and physical on the job and off, and the right to their own health choices in full control of their own bodies and of course, equal pay for equal work.
And we were determined to write about it all and much more all in our own words and publicly in a new newspaper called Vermont Woman.
In November 1985 Vermont Woman was launched in Burlington, Vermont with a 20,000 print run and 60,000 Vermont readers. From the start, perhaps because we live in the great cutting edge state of Vermont, the paper was widely and positively received by readers and advertisers. But we had critics too…those who thought the paper was too radical, men who wanted to be on the board or write, and some women (and advertisers) who recoiled from the exclusionary name of the newspaper Vermont Woman and fear of change. But there was no turning back.
THE EDITORIAL MISSION OF VERMONT WOMAN NEWSPAPER
Vermont Woman is the only publication in Vermont written entirely by Vermont women writers, who provide a Vermont woman’s perspective on the arts, business, finance, education, health, legal, politics, sports and relationships.
The goal for every issue is to provide excellent writing from a woman’s perspective, which is relevant, inspiring, provocative, edgy and educational and packaged in excellent design format, not be found in any other publication.
Vermont Woman is a business and must be supported financially by advertising sales, without compromising our editorial integrity.
The marketing goal of the paper is to provide an educated consistent readership, mostly women, at a cost effective advertising rate for businesses to advertise their products and services directly to the Vermont women’s market. Women make about 85 percent of all purchasing decisions for themselves and their families and almost every business is interested in them as customers our potential customers.
THE VERMONT WOMAN LECTURE SERIES
Producer and host of the lecture series 1985-present Vermont Woman Newspaper Annual Lecture Series. Past speakers included: Gloria Steinem, legendary feminist (twice), Jehan Sadat, widow of Egypt’s Anwar Sedat, White House Press Core Reporter, Helen Thomas (twice), Texas Governor, Ann Richards, New Commentator Eleanor Cliff and Outed CIA Agent, Valerie Plame Wilson.
Vermont Woman by all newspaper industry standards, is exceptional in many ways. It is now the longest running women’s publication in the country. It has a woman’s point of view and takes gutsy editorial stands including endorsing political candidates. Vermont Woman is not about, diets, hairstyles or the latest fashion. It is about what women think and what they stand for and what they can and do achieve. In other words, the paper takes risks and does it all entirely with a Vermont women writers and staff.
It seems that with every new presidential election women and children are the first to see their rights threatened, diminished, unfunded or abolished. Today women are once again fighting for some of the same rights they fought so hard to get years ago as the Trump administration (probably the worst ever) is rapidly demolishing these rights.
It has taken a lot of sweat, tears, joy and money for Vermont Woman to continue this long. Sue Gillis has one big wish. That is, when the time is right, sometime in the near future, a person or persons will appear loaded with optimism and energy, ideas and passion and take on the noble task of continuing to publish Vermont women’s voices in Vermont Woman for years to come. The future of Vermont Woman depends on whoever is next.