Karen DeCrow

Karen DeCrow
Born Karen Lipschultz
(1937-12-18)December 18, 1937
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died June 6, 2014(2014-06-06) (aged 76)
Jamesville, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Northwestern University
Syracuse University

Karen DeCrow (née Lipschultz; December 18, 1937 – June 6, 2014) was an American attorney, author, and activist and feminist. She was also a strong supporter equal rights for men in custody decisions and the choice of whether or not to become a parent.[1]


Karen DeCrow was born in Chicago, Illinois. Beginning her career as a journalist, she joined the National Organization for Women in 1969, and in 1969 she ran for mayor of the city of Syracuse, New York, becoming the first female mayoral candidate in the history of New York.[2] After entering law school, she earned her Juris Doctor from Syracuse University College of Law in 1972[3]—the only female in the class of 1972.[4]

DeCrow was elected president of the National Organization for Women from 1974 to 1977, during which time she led campaigns to ensure that collegiate sports would be included under the scope of Title IX, pressured NASA to recruit women as astronauts, oversaw the opening of a new NOW Action Center in Washington, D.C. and the establishment of NOW's National Task Force on Battered Women/Household Violence, and participated in a tour of over 80 public debates with antifeminist activist Phyllis Schlafly over the Equal Rights Amendment.[5]

DeCrow was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union in 1985.[6]

DeCrow died of melanoma on June 6, 2014 in Jamesville, New York.[7][8]


She was the author of several books, including The Young Woman’s Guide to Liberation (1971) and Sexist Justice—How Legal Sexism Affects You (1975).[2] In October 2009, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[3] DeCrow describes her ultimate goal as "a world in which the gender of a baby will have little to no relevance in future pursuits and pleasures—personal, political, economic, social and professional."[2] Toward that end, DeCrow was a supporter of shared parenting (joint legal and shared physical custody) of children when parents divorce.[9][10] Her position on joint custody was criticized by some in the National Organization for Women: "I've become a persona non grata because I've always been in favor of joint custody," DeCrow said.[11]


Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Wilma Scott Heide
President of the National Organization for Women
Succeeded by
Eleanor Smeal
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