Jill Abramson and Women Journalists

By: Morgan Gstalter

Jill Abramson and Evan Smith, SXSW panel. Photo courtesy of Anna Hanks via Flickr

Jill Abramson and Evan Smith, SXSW panel. Photo courtesy of Anna Hanks via Flickr

When the executive editor of “The New York Times,” Jill Abramson, was fired for her “brusque management style” in the spring, it shook the media industry up. She was torn apart in a Politico article by Dylan Byers, using “anonymous” sources that were crawling out from all corners of her newsroom, claiming she was unpopular, uncaring, disengaged and “bitchy.”

Ah. The “b” word.  It sparked much needed discussion about gender inequality in this field, female leadership, and why her abrupt termination was linked to the fact that she is a women.

A new U.N.-backed report from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media was released recently that discussed gender discrimination that is perpetuated in film.

Think about famous journalists. Compile a list. How many of them are women? The top 3 I thought of were Barbara Walters, Christane Amanpour and Diane Sawyer.  I could probably rattle off a few dozen more men but that’s the benefit of this day and age. The study found that compared to doctors, lawyers and athletes, the only career field that was closely split in movies was journalism (60% men, 40% female.)

But is that an accurate representation? Yes. They are moving up, especially in management. In a field once dominated by men since it’s inception, women are taking leading roles in their newsrooms.

The ASNE (American Society of News Editor) released data that says 63% or two-thirds of newspapers had a least one women on their top editorial board. With so many women holding high positions on newspapers, why was Abramson’s managing style critiqued so sharply? Because it was “The New York Times?” Because she was the first female editor? The world may never know

A discussion has been started. Women journalists are rallying together in support of Abramson, as she discussed her career openly for the first time in September’s issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in an article called “I’m Not Ashamed of Getting Fired” by Laura Brounstein and Leslie Yazel. Female editors from “The Chicago Tribune” sent her flowers. Journalism is one of the fastest growing equality career fields for women, giving them more opportunity for equality in the workplace and abilities to hold leadership positions.



5 responses to “Jill Abramson and Women Journalists

  1. This is a great post, especially about how women in the workplace are viewed in general. Why is it that a tough male manager is viewed as driven and effective, while a woman is seen as “bitchy?” As rising women in the journalism field, I think it’s up to us to take on these leadership roles and show that we can do the job just as well as men.

  2. I really like your argument here. Women still don’t have workplace equality with men, and that’s frustrating, but what’s worse is when women are targeted for character attributes that both men and women might have, like being strict, simply because they’re a woman. Gender roles in the workplace probably won’t go away anytime soon, but it’s about time people are standing up for who they are and what they believe in. We need more leaders who won’t hide who they are because they’re afraid of what people think.

  3. I agree with both of the comments before me. Gender roles in the workplace has always been off, and though the statistics show that there is a good balance between male and female journalists in the workplace, it is still sad to see that most of the famous journalists are male. I think this is still a work in progress, and I think (or hope) that things will change because of the ratio you shared of male to female journalists popping up in the newsroom. I am also hoping the b-word stigma will change too–what’s wrong with a driven woman? It’ll be interesting to see how women continue to influence journalism, and I’m curious to see what it will be like even a few years from now.

  4. I am in a sociology class that discusses this topic often. Women in the workplace are always described as bitchy, bossy or emotional; while men are confident, hardworking, and passionate. I think our field is trying to push that standard by placing women in more higher positions, but it won’t stop it entirely. I’m not sure what can stop it, but it does need to be stopped!

  5. I agree with all the comments above. Their is certainly a stigma for women in leadership roles in the workplace and it’s not usually positive. Where a man is called confident and dedicated, a woman is called arrogant and bossy. Lately I’ve seen more campaigns trying to end these stigmas and I think it’s impressive to see the strides that are being taken to create more equality in the workplace.

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