Not Your Mother's Sexism

Friday, March 26, 2010

Forty years ago, a group of women sued Newsweek magazine for sex discrimination. Jessica Bennett, senior Newsweek writer, and Lynn Povich, the magazine’s first female senior editor and one of the original litigants, reflect on the suit and talk about what’s changed and what hasn’t for women in the workplace.


Jessica Bennett and Lynn Povich

Comments [30]

henry schmelzer from Somerset, NJ 08873

Where there is real discrimination it should be opposed not on partisan grounds but for reasons of fairness.

On another angle, I heard one of your guests sound the cry of triumphalism - "WE excel them (males) in school at every level, or so," she said.

As a person who experienced group triumphalism in Europe in the early part of last century,this note jarred on my ears. Does the way we teach pupils in school today put boys at a disadvantage?

It is a question whose time is way past asking.

Mar. 28 2010 02:58 PM

Many people - male and female, don't feel comfortable with negotiating. As a woman who freelances for a living, I knew I had to speak up for myself so I took a class at FIT. It was great! My rates are in alignment with my male counterparts and in quite a few cases, above.

From my experience, clients/employers can be fair or can be persuaded. And if they're the other way and work with someone who is.

Mar. 26 2010 12:18 PM
the truth from Betty

I don't know if that is Chris female or Chris male, that is not the reason women are paid less....the thought that you may not be in the job for the long run can apply to the ambitious male seeking to advance his career as well..that' not the reason women are paid less.

Mar. 26 2010 12:16 PM
the truth from Betty

cnjiwhatever...are u trying to tell me a "shrill" sounding voice has anything to do with equality in the work place? and don't confuse her confidence with sense of entitlement.

Mar. 26 2010 12:15 PM
Bill Mullen from New Rochelle

' cnjiwoicw ' said:

"Not to re-open the debate, but Hillary Clinton DID have a tendency to be, well, shrill when shouting before crowds. It is the least effective communication method for most politicians, but Secretary Clinton's voice was particularly ill-suited for big rooms.
Lastly, I objected to her candidacy (and believe she lost the early campaigns) because of her sense of entitlement."
So what?
The same was said of Gaius Julius Caesar.
How I wish Hillary had won the Democratic nomination. She would be a far better president than Mr. Obama.

Mar. 26 2010 12:14 PM
Suki from Williamsburg

@ [24] jenn : Ironic indeed! Nice catch!

Mar. 26 2010 12:11 PM

This segment might have been unintentionally ironic. As the guest threw out numbers about how many cover stories were written by females, I couldn't help but notice how there is only one show on WNYC's which is hosted by a woman.

Mar. 26 2010 12:01 PM
the truth from Betty

SUKI...thanks for your support.."stuff it" is precisely what I told her to do! lol

Mar. 26 2010 12:00 PM
T from Garden


Mar. 26 2010 11:59 AM

Not to re-open the debate, but Hillary Clinton DID have a tendency to be, well, shrill when shouting before crowds. It is the least effective communication method for most politicians, but Secretary Clinton's voice was particularly ill-suited for big rooms.

Lastly, I objected to her candidacy (and believe she lost the early campaigns) because of her sense of entitlement.

Mar. 26 2010 11:58 AM
Zen from South Salem

Since the job of raising children is far more important or rewarding than any other job on the planet, how as an employer do you recomend I screen women I interview in order to find out if they will make the sacrafice of sticking with their job or quitting to raise their children. I have lost two great women already and am hoping to find a woman foolish enough to put her job before her children.

Mar. 26 2010 11:58 AM
Meg from CT

I worked in HR for great companies, all financial, and know from firsthand experience that women are simply paid less and unless the government steps in or a lawsuit is very successful, no one questions the practice. I was told to hire a peer with EXACTLY the same qualifications, education and experience for $20,000 more and rebuffed for commenting on that. I was told 'he has a family to support' and I was single at the time.

I'm glad you're discussing this because it is still a big problem.

Mar. 26 2010 11:56 AM

1) When I was leaving a job I discovered that I was being paid less than a man who I would be training to take my job. (In other words, he was junior in experience.) I did NOT sue, although I could have, because I needed the reference. Happens all the time.

2) A friend in HR at an Amlaw 100 firm has reported to me that when attorneys give feedback on candidates, and those candidates happen to be overweight, attorneys of both sexes will comment on this fact regarding the women, but not the men.

Mar. 26 2010 11:56 AM
Diana from NYC

A lot of the traditional discussion is around how women don't feel emboldened to even ask for more competitive compensation upfront. But I've actually experienced cases when it hurts to ask. When joining a small fund, I thought I was in a strong position to ask for a fair compensation for the role (I have 3 graduate degrees, a skill set that no one at the fund had, an attractive counter-offer, and all the industry compensation publications). Yet I was viewed as a "diva" for trying to negotiate up from a below industry-average salary, and was expected to accept a salary that was a 30% paycut from my nonprofit position. So it hurts to ask.

Mar. 26 2010 11:55 AM
S. B. from East Village

In graduate school, a prominent executive from a major tv network spoke at a class of mine.

During her remarks about her career and the business, she went out of her way to declare that she was "not a feminist."

Whatever her reasons were for thinking that the word is tainted (or connotes more than egalitarianism), I was so disappointed that she felt that way and said it aloud too.

Mar. 26 2010 11:54 AM
kp from nj

I agree with Betty (4). I have a doctorate, but a low starting salary in my first job when I was young (and didn't know any better)dogged me for years...

Mar. 26 2010 11:51 AM
Unheard from NYC

There has been a successful attack on feminism since its inception. The opponents of feminism have demonized the ideal over the years to the extent that women find the idea distasteful. Just like Kansas voting against its own best. Progressives have an extremely difficult time with language. In general they lack the soundbites necessary to battle the opposing language.

Mar. 26 2010 11:50 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

@ the Truth from Betty: Oh my god - that is horrific. I hope you told her to stuff it.

Mar. 26 2010 11:50 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

It's actually not illegal if a base rate is established for the job in question and a male candidate negotiates for more money than a female candidate.

Mar. 26 2010 11:49 AM
Bill Mullen from New Rochelle

I've worked at the phone company for 40 years. I've seen that women intellecommunications are equal to men in every way, especially includuing pay treatment.

Let's hear from women at the telephone company.

Mar. 26 2010 11:48 AM
inquisigal from Brooklyn, NY

Another industry that is still greatly lacking women in higher positions is the movie industry. Beyond blaming sexism or the ways in which certain genders behave on the job (which does play a part of it, as huge egos exist in the top tiers, and women generally tend to be less egotistical than men), I often wondered if other women, like me, chose to leave the industry because the hours were absolutely insane.

Since women of my generation (X) still weren't raised with the mantra of "work 80 hours a week to get ahead," I think this could factor into it. Beyond the notion of carving out time to have children (which I don't), I just wanted to be able to have a life, and did not want to work 6 days a week, 14 hours a day. Pehaps other women are more inclined to consider "quality of life" versus most men?

Mar. 26 2010 11:47 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

Having an HR Director as a mother taught me the powers of negotiation VERY early on. I have made more money than all of my boyfriends since I started working.

Ask and you will receive. The problem is that most women are not askers.

Mar. 26 2010 11:46 AM
Chris from Brooklyn, NY

Are women paid less because employers figure they will leave to have children or take more time off of work due to child-raising needs (i.e. school vacation/sick kids/ etc.)then men??

Mar. 26 2010 11:46 AM

I am a female editor at a book publisher and have recently hired two young women and am now hiring a third to replace an exiting male editor. The make-up of my team is now three women (including myself) and one man. I feel an odd pressure (coming from no one but myself) to hire a man to maintain some gender balance in my group. Is this wrong?

Mar. 26 2010 11:46 AM
Anne from Houston, TX

Same issue in architecture.
People at the top are men and it's not remarkable that they want to work with people like them.
...I think the saddest part at times is that women with relatively more power or less likely to help up starting women. They tend to be defensive of what ground they have made.

Mar. 26 2010 11:46 AM
Barbara Fischkin from Long Beach, New York

In 1975 I was an unpaid college intern at a small newspaper in Saratoga Springs, New York. The WOMAN publisher of the newspaper took me to lunch and told me that if I wanted to break into journalism I should go and get a job as a secretary at Newsweek or Time. I was horrified and instead found a job as an editorial clerk at an Albany paper. In that job I was assigned articles to write. When I left Albany for Newsday in 1979 I was covering state government. I am now the author of three books, a journalist and a college level journalism instructor.

Mar. 26 2010 11:45 AM
Betty Kahan from New Jersey

Working in corporate I/T for over 30 years has given me a great perspective on women in the workplace. I am fortunate for my position; but firmly believe that I would be farther along in my career if I had been a man.

The percentage of executive management in corporate I/T is still in the single digits. I also know first hand that my female employees still make 5-10% less than the males.

Although I do my best to get them a higher % at raise time -- they always come to me with lower base salaries and getting them caught up to the men can take several years.

Mar. 26 2010 11:45 AM
the truth from Betty


Mar. 26 2010 11:45 AM
the truth from Betty

The financial company I work for attempted to move me to an inner office to make room for the incoming "male" advisors however..the idea was cooked up by a philipino woman! Her ridiculous excuse was that every broker office she ever saw had the "men on the wall, with the window offices" Bull, needless to say the move never happened!

Mar. 26 2010 11:44 AM
Sara Dulaney from putnam county ny

Interesting! 45 years ago, or so, for my first post-college job, I had an intreview w/ a senior type @ newsweek, due to a family connection w/the washington post (then owner of newsweek). The fellow said "the girls start in the cliproom." Even then, even needing a job, I knew there was something wrong with that! Even the NYTimes gave "girls" an even shot at copy"boy"... and I hong on and got a job as a real editor at another publication... Could have started the lawsuit 5 years earlier, I guess...

Mar. 26 2010 09:26 AM

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