Yesterday, the New York Times’ announcement it was replacing Managing Editor Jill Abramson with Dean Baquet, after her brief three year tenure with no transition time and no good-bye, in what Rebecca Traister calls “a singularly humiliating firing” was one more act of sexism by the so-called liberal institution.
The Women’s Media Center had just released a study The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2014 showing that of the most widely circulated U.S. newspapers, the Times has the biggest byline gender gap: 69% of writers are men. An earlier study by WMC shows that at the Times men are cited as expert sources for news stories 3.4 times more than women are cited.
Why was Abramson fired? Ken Auletta writes in the New Yorker:
Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.
Irrespective of the specific circumstances in this case, such words as “abrasive,” “pushy,” and “brusque” tend to irk professional women, who have come to recognize them from countless studies demonstrating that female leaders are almost always seen more negatively than male ones—a phenomenon also known as the competent-but-disliked dilemma.
The more critical issue, though, is that the gap in pay between women and men is quite real and stubbornly persists at 77¢ on the dollar in spite of the many advances women have made. Even after factoring in differences in occupation, education, and years of experience, according to Harvard’s Claudia Goldin, a significant gulf in female vs. male pay still exists. Still, no one seems able to do much about it.
In April, Republican senators voted down the latest bill meant to address this disparity: The Paycheck Fairness Act would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who discussed their compensation and would have allowed for more government monitoring of what workers are paid.
Sexism at the New York Times has infuriated me for so long. In 2012, I wrote to The New York Times after reading the Magazine’s cover article by chief film critic A.O. Scott titled “Year of the Heroine Worship. The piece claimed that 2012 was “a pretty good year for female heroism” in the movies citing “Brave” among a handful of others. It came out a couple days after I posted Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girl’s Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2012. Here’s is my letter the NYT published in a later issue of its Magazine:
What about movies for children? I have three young daughters. Aside from the pink ghetto, kids’ media — whether PBS or Disney — put male characters front and center. Female characters are sidelined or not there at all — just look at the posters for children’s movies (with the exception of ‘‘Brave’’). There is no reason for the imaginary world to be sexist.Margot Magowan, San Francisco, posted on nytimes.com
It’s upsetting and damaging that the New York Times is so sexist because it’s a force in determining which stories are “important.”
Here’s a quote I use often from Half the Sky by reporters Nicolas Krsitof (who works at the Times now) and Sheryl Wudunn (who used to work at the Times.)
When a prominent dissident was arrested in China, we would write a front-page article; when 100,000 girls were kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, we didn’t even consider it news
In honor of Jill Abramson, here’s a list of Reel Girl’s blogs on sexism at the New York Times:
Dylan Farrow’s op-ed on Woody Allen’s sex abuse was sent to many papers, all who rejected it. I am assuming the Times was one of those papers. It was columnist Nicolas Kristof who posted Farrow’s letter on his blog. Yet, the Times did publish Woody Allen’s rebuttal as op-ed.