The Association for Women in Communications (AWC) has a longstanding connection with the UW Department of Communication – in fact, it was created by seven UW female journalism students in 1909. After recruiting five more women, they formed the Alpha chapter of Theta Sigma Phi, a women’s fraternity with the mission “to raise the standards of journalism, improve working conditions for women in the profession and inspire the individual to greater efforts.”
By 1910, the Alpha chapter had granted a charter to the Beta chapter at the University of Wisconsin, marking the beginning of Theta Sigma Phi’s history as a national organization. Theta Sigma Phi started another legacy in 1915, when the Alpha chapter published Volume 1, Number 1 of The Matrix, a magazine for women in journalism.
Quickly growing into a broader national organization, AWC now has more than 2,000 active members with professional and student chapters in 19 states and the District of Columbia. About half of the members work in public relations, marketing, or communications marketing, with others in fields including journalism, graphic design, photography, web development, and publishing.
A historic exhibit placed in the Department of Communication was dedicated on May 18, 1982 by founder Georgina MacDougall Davis (1888-1981) and contained many artifacts from the beginning of Theta Sigma Phi and the AWC until its removal in June 2015. Some of the artifacts are pictured below:
In 1976, AWC member Barbara Walters became the first woman to co-anchor the network news, receiving a record-breaking salary from ABC. Lori Matsukawa (M.A., 1996) was the AWC’s Communicator of the Year in 2009. Matsukawa is a member of the Department of Communication’s Alumni Hall of Fame and was named the 2015 Distinguished Alumna.
Hear from long-time AWC member Cathy Stevens (B.A., 1969) about her involvement with the organization, as well as UW Communication student Ishwarya Rajendran (B.A., 2016 – expected) about the importance of joining a student club: