Monday, May 19, 2014

Jill Abramson debate over her firing from the NYTimes

Jill Abramson, former NYTimes Executive Editor
As I am sure everyone has heard by now, Jill Abramson, the first woman executive editor of the NYTimes newspaper, was fired last week by the publisher.   A debate has been raging on about why she was fired.  Was it for her so called "abrasive, tough and pushy" manner in the newsroom or because she recently hired an attorney to look into pay inequity she believed she was experiencing with men, her counterparts?

Abramson is an acclaimed author and journalist, former graduate of Harvard University, and considered the best in her profession.  She ran a tight newsroom and under her management there were no scandals and she worked hard to maintain a commitment to truth and accountability in the news.

Again, do we have a woman berated and fired from her position because she displayed those qualities and personality traits that men are heralded for:  abrasive, tough, pushy and blunt and to the point?  While we admire these traits in men, we are horrified when these traits are displayed by women.  

If Abramson displays these qualities she must be nasty, controlling, and not connecting with her newsroom employees.  There is tension in the newsroom and she is the cause of it.  Never mind that she has supporters, she is difficult and not easy to work with.  Therefore, she must go.

Or, is it just the perfect timing for firing her since she has the audacity to suggest that she is experiencing pay inequity with men in the organization, and has hired an attorney to investigate and look into the matter.

Abramson was summoned and asked to resign which to her credit she refused to do.  She has done nothing wrong so why should she resign?    She has done a stellar job of running the Times' newsroom and should not be judged any differently than her male counterparts or paid any differently than her male counterparts.

We received a lengthy press release from the publisher maintaining the firing has nothing to do with the pay inequity she questions, but because of her "abrasiveness."  But, the fact that the publisher has had to put out a public statement to those outraged by her firing says a lot.  Why has a private employee matter become so public?

"Doth the publisher protest too much?"

Quite the coincidence that her firing and her request for information pertaining to pay inequity happened at the very same time.

Pay inequity has been an issue the President has brought up many times.  Women have shattered the glass ceiling, but are not being paid what men are paid.  In this day and age that is outrageous.  Women who have the same educational experience, work experience, leadership qualities, and proven themselves along the way should be paid exactly what a man would be paid.  

What is it about this country that women are expected to be second class citizens when it comes to compensation for their work?  This is the bottom line and the crux of the matter. 

To her credit, Abramson showed up and spoke at the Wake Forest commencement today. She emphasized resilience as the one quality most needed in the work force and careers of today.  I would say so and she certainly displayed it today.  I can imagine how difficult it was to give her speech in the wake of her recent firing.  She emphasized the graduates in her speech, but, of course, had to refer to her own situation in some instances.

When asked about her famous Time's iconic script T tattoo on her back, she said she's keeping it.   

That's resilience!

Copyright  2014   Suzannah Wolf Walker   all rights reserved