Girls Gotta Read Ep. 6: Glass Ceilings & Gutters

On this episode of the Girls Gotta Read Podcast, the girls kick off Women’s History Month by delving into the fascinating life of the third liberty mother: the droll, unapologetic, and incredibly prolific writer Isabel Paterson. A mentor to Ayn Rand and correspondent of Rose Wilder Lane, Paterson was the eldest, and according to some scholars, had the biggest impact on the libertarian movement out of the three.

As we reflect on the influence and life of Paterson and wrap up our episodes on the libertarian mother trio, we have to ask: Do you think there is a glass ceiling for women in America today? Do you think there ever was? Or is the glass ceiling in the United States nothing but a fallacy?

Also, if Melanie were to open up a dive bar called Mel’s Gutter, would you go? Listen to the episode to find out more!

To read along with the girls and prepare for the next episode, you can find Paterson’s celebrated essay “The Humanitarian with the Guillotine.”

Isabel Patterson Fast Facts:

  • January 22, 1886 – January 10, 1961

  • Born in rural Ontario and moved to a ranch in Alberta when she was very young

  • The family was poor, had eight siblings

  • Largely self-educated

  • Left the ranch as a teen and moved to the city of Calgary—took a clerical job on the Canadian Pacific Railway

  • Also worked as a waitress, stenographer, bookkeeper, and even as an assistant to the future Canadian PM R.B Bennett

  • Had a short-lived loveless marriage with Kenneth B. Paterson between 1910-1918

  • Landed a job with the Inland Herald in Spokane, Washington—starting her career in journalism

  • Moved to NYC and held a variety of jobs

  • Worked for sculptor Gutzon Borglum who would later carve Mount Rushmore

  • Wrote a column signed IMP for the New York Herald Tribune’s Books “Turns with a Bookworm” section, becoming one of the most influential, respected, and scathing literary critics of her time (reviewed Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, many writers of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as many first generation Americans)

  • Best-known work: God of the Machine (1943) – political philosophy, economics, history


  • Advocated for less government interference on both social and fiscal issues

  • Opposed FDR’s New Deal as well as his foreign policy

  • “Liberty or death, no foreign entanglements, and the least governed country is the best governed”

  • Unlike Ayn Rand, she thought individualism/capitalism could be compatible with religion