One of New York's last bastions of male chauvinism bit the dust the other day. The 75-year-old Explorers Club voted 753 to 613 to admit women as members.
While a club spokesman said some members would find the change "a little unsettling," most are viewing the news with graciousness and goodwill -- to all prospective women members.
But what some members are calling a "new era" will take time to come to full flower. The first women aren't expected to be admitted before June at the earliest -- after the club's new president, George van Brandt Cochran, addresses the Society of Women Geographers.
Knowledgeable sources say that some of the strongest opposition to admitting women to the club came from members of the women's society who felt that if females were admitted to the Explorers Club it would lead to the breakup of their own organization. Mr. Cochran, who has conducted many scientific journeys to the Arctic, wants to reassure the Society of Women Geographers that the Explorers Club is not going to raid its membership.
There will be no "first woman member" of the Explorers Club. Instead there will be a group of first women members. Despite press reports speculating that NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan would be the first woman admitted, the club intends, according to a spokesman, to accept women in "groups" so as to shun "any sensationalism."
Ending sex discrimination at the Explorers Club doesn't mean the end of male-only bastions in New York City. A number of clubs still bar women members, including the University Club and the Links.