Gender and Class at Harvard Business School

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jodi Kantor, New York Times Washington correspondent and the author of The Obamas, discusses her reporting on efforts to level the playing field for women at Harvard Business School and the response from some readers that class divides students more than gender. She also discusses her reporting on the role of gender in the 2013 New York City mayoral primary and Christine Quinn's third-place finish.



Jodi Kantor

Comments [32]

No questioning of the actual quality of the HBS teachers -- especially dinosaurs teaching sexism to young people?

Sep. 13 2013 04:55 PM
'GINA from nyc

well, if 'elites' at harvard are running into sexism issues - imagine other women who are poor and non-elite.
yes, we live in a sexist world - U.S. of A! and every other spot on earth where vagina is deemed weak and therefore stupid.

Sep. 13 2013 02:38 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Enough with the focus on women.

I've read that today more women go to college than men.

Time to level the playing field and mentor young men for achievement and success.

Sep. 13 2013 12:20 PM
francyne pelchar from Pelham Bay Park

I was in grad school at Columbia in the early 80ies. One professor was sexist much in the way described on your show. One time I was wearing a lovely yellow sweater. When I raised my hand, he said "Let's hear from Little Miss Sunshine".

Sep. 13 2013 12:02 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Quinn just did not connect with people. She assumed that her candidacy would be a de facto coronation for Mayor. She got played by Boomberg, who - blinded by his hubris, did not even consider that his despicable role in over-turning term limits via a backroom deal, as opposed to a referendum, would make him a liability.

Mike's infamous "they'll get over it" on term limits, turned out not to be the case. Some New Yorkers actually keep their word, in this case the voters did.

Sep. 13 2013 11:39 AM
telegram sam from Staten Island

Gender didn't hurt Quinn—Quinn hurt Quinn. Yes, she's unlikeable and I think there's something to the idea that we expect women to be a little warmer and fuzzier than their male counterparts in business, politics and media. This is unfair. But let's face it, the reason she lost was that she was unable to break fully with Bloomberg, especially in pledging to keep Kelly in charge and in delaying the sick leave bill. She lost EVERY poor and minority district because of this, and even her own district, which is rich. I was paying close attention to this election and can't recall her laying out any concrete proposals on anything, and she seemed unable to give a coherent answer to a direct question. This is a harsh city but I'm convinced a woman with DeBlasio's independence and focus could have won.

Sep. 13 2013 11:33 AM
Bonn from East Village

Jodi, Jodi, Jodi.
You are missing the point with your Quinn article. I have three words from her West Village constituents: St. Vincent's Hospital. She was held responsible for its loss, or at the least, for not doing enough to save it. Too cozy with Rudin, the developer. From Chelsea, two words: Chelsea Market, allowing developers St. James to take it over. Then there are other LOCAL issues from her district which Quinn had not been receptive to or had hedged on, waiting to see which way the wind was blowing. Them's the reasons, girlfriend. The chickens came home to roost.

Sep. 13 2013 11:26 AM

How come we don't elect admitted women embezzlers to the mayoralty with the same frequency we elect embezzlers who are men?

Sep. 13 2013 11:25 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Christine Quinn didn't lose because she's a woman; she lost because she is a loud, uncouth person with no class.

And, by the way, Donald Trump will also keep losing because he has no class, either.

People want politicians who are civilized as well as honest and knowledgeable.

Sep. 13 2013 11:25 AM
The Truth from Becky

@Jim from NYC - yep I noticed you said "most"....FYI,,,it's not about having or raising kids, it's about inner strength, some have it some don't. I work with women that are Mother's one is pregnant now, today! She is due next week for goodness sakes and she is in an investment meeting right now!!

It is a very small group of women that just simply need to be housewives, men are just not rising to the occasion so women can stay home like so long ago. My grandmother did not work outside of the home.

Sep. 13 2013 11:23 AM
paulb from Prospect Heights

Is it some surprise to anyone how tough and critical women are on other women, especially in NYC?

Sep. 13 2013 11:20 AM

Christine lost because of VOICE.

Sep. 13 2013 11:20 AM
jim from nyc

Quinn is not likeable.

Sep. 13 2013 11:19 AM
Nick from UWS

Oh boo friggin' hoo. Gender inequality at Harvard Business School...Jesus Christ....

Sep. 13 2013 11:16 AM

Step up and take charge of yourself instead of whining like a baby. The real world is highly competitive and it takes a whole lot more than good grades to succeed.

If you can't handle the real world you can always apply for a job at NPR or WNYC.

Sep. 13 2013 11:16 AM
Debbbie Ozziroy from Brooklyn

Just a side note about the ripple effect - I've been driving a cab for 9 years in NYC and I'm always shocked by how many people get into my cab in this 21st century and say "WOW you're a woman cab driver, aren't you afraid? WHat's it like?" I just roll my eyes and wonder where this is coming from. THanks for this talk, now I see a bit clearer.......

Sep. 13 2013 11:16 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Women feel weak in the face of larger men, so they overcompensate by being crazy. It is the vulnerability that most females feel in the face of men that makes them act the way they do. They are usually compensating. Truly strong women, like my mother was, are totally fearless. But I guess you have to survive a holocaust to be that fearless. You face imminent death so often that it no longer fazes.

Sep. 13 2013 11:14 AM

I would be interested to see an experiment at Harvard Business School where they bring a class of students who not only are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but who make an affirmative commitment to bring the largesse that a HBS education bestoys on them to the have-nots of the world. Is the idea that women should get to be masters of the universe too or that the benefits of the universe should be shared with all?

Sep. 13 2013 11:13 AM
The Truth from Becky

Women bring far too much emotion to the work world and also temptation for the weaker males BUT they also bring organization and logic. Men have very small and easily bruised ego's.

Sep. 13 2013 11:10 AM
Hollis Brown from South Dakota

Note to women:

Please stop complaining about everything... It's getting really boring.

Sep. 13 2013 11:09 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

There shouldn't be classrooms. If the Khan Academy has taught us anything,it is that classrooms are no longer necessary.

No should there be courtrooms. As a recent PBS science show has essentially shown, we can now prove who is lying or telling the truth with MRI and other technologies. We don't need this whole expensive "show" in courtrooms to find out the truth in any case, which is a process that only enriches lawyers. Technology is changing everything, but apparently not the teaching and legal professions. They won't let anything put THEM out of work!

Sep. 13 2013 11:08 AM
Jim from nyc


I did not say all. but on average the numbers favor men.
I would bet that having and rasing kids has something to do with it.
Women and men are differnet on average.

Sep. 13 2013 11:08 AM
EJ from NYC

Teaching female students to raise their hands and speak in class is a great idea!

The same problem exists in radio call in shows: most of the callers and voices heard are male. Brian you and WNYC need to do more on the gender equality front yourselves, agree?

Sep. 13 2013 11:08 AM
Smokey from LES

Wasn't it a recent Harvard President who denigrated women and science?

Sep. 13 2013 11:08 AM
Bob from Westchester

Big difference between Harvard Law and HBS -- Since the 1970's, the law school does not include class participation as part of a first year student's grade, and final exams are graded anonymously. This was put in place partially to eliminate gender bias.

Sep. 13 2013 11:07 AM
The Truth from Becky

@Jim from NYC - I wish I worked with you, I would show you that CERTAIN women are cut out for business and some like this caller should indeed be housewives,...wish I worked with you to show you the difference!

Sep. 13 2013 11:06 AM
Anne from UWS

This was a great article, and unfortunately not a surprise at all. In the 1980s, I was in a very technical PhD program at Stanford, and then in a top-10 law school on the east coast. I found at both institutions that I was interrupted constantly by my professors when I asked questions, but they would let men ramble on and on with no clear question formed in their minds. My PhD program was not sexualized like HBS, but the business school (my program held classes jointly with the business school) environment was horrifically sexualized and harassing. The atmosphere at law school was somewhat sexualized, and there was the same split in the women's choices between being verbal and nonsexual and being sexually attractive. I'm in the business world now and find it is only slightly different now, all these years later, in a different legal environment.

Sep. 13 2013 11:06 AM

Jodi Kantor mentions the gender divide at many institutions and notes that she is not targeting the NY Times in particular. The recent article about Jennifer Raab, the current president of Hunter College highlights a (perhaps not-so) subtle bias that exists at The Times (and in the society at general). As Margaret Sullivan, the public editor at the Times, points out in a subsequent piece critical of Kaminer's article, some of the statements about Raab were unlike any comments that would be leveled at a man in a similar position, including the publication of anonymous comments that violated the newspaper's editorial standards. See also the reader response to Sullivan's piece.

Sep. 13 2013 11:03 AM
Jim from nyc

most women are not cut out for business.

men grabbed power in the corporate world over the last couple of centuries for a reason.

I guess, if you make a concerted effort like they did at HBS and give women favorable treatment you can equalize the genders.

Real world businesses WILL NOT work this way

Sep. 13 2013 11:03 AM
Clare from Brooklyn

I recently graduated from an MPA program for working professionals and I can relate to some of what is being described. The hand-raising issue especially. In my experience, the issue was not even so much that women didn't raise their hands to participate, but that men were more likely to interject *without* raising their hands and to dominate discussions in that way.

Sep. 13 2013 11:03 AM
jch from ny

1st person Brian calls on is a man. Just saying.

Sep. 13 2013 11:03 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The real test comes when women have to take orders from other women. Unless women think they can find effective organizational methods that stupid men haven't been able to discover. When I see female women platoon leaders (NCOs) leading their female squads to victory and accomplishing their mission in the face of machine gun fire, then I'll believe it.

Sep. 13 2013 10:56 AM

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