The New Yorker‘s Ken Auletta kept digging, and it seems that Jill Abramson was being paid less than her male peers:
… As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000. She learned that her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes. She also learned that her salary as Washington bureau chief, from 2000 to 2003, was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her successor in that position…
It’s important to keep in mind that, in the realm of “too old for contemporary memory, too new for the history books“, the NYTimes has a history of under- paying the too few women they hire, including a rather famous federal sex discrimination suit filed against the current Sulzberger’s father in 1974. (And, yes, that history was brought up again when Abramson was
hired promoted in 2011.)
Sexism is real, has been real, will probably go on being real for the foresee- able future. Saying “well, not everything is about sexism” feels, to a lot of us women, like saying “well, not everything is about racism” when the GOP goes collectively nuts over President Obama — sure, it’s not just about racism (they’d hate any Democrat, it’s a campaign tactic, maybe the President might even have made a less-than-brilliant choice on one or another issue), but the -ism is so linked into the very molecular structure that pretending it doesn’t exist falls somewhere between willfully naive and deliberately hostile. It’s not everything, but it’s never not there.
Amanda Marcotte, at TPM:
…[W]hat happens when women follow all this advice to lean in, hold their heads high, make demands, and fake it ‘til they make it? Well, a lot of women rightfully fear that they’ll be considered bitchy shrews. Women know that the very qualities that cause so many to see men as “powerful” look like, well, pushiness when they manifest in women. In fact, research confirms this fear: Following all that advice to act like a man can backfire and cause your boss to apply misogynist stereotypes to you that you will never get past. So the lame advice women get is to be pushy and confident sometimes and demure and retreating at others. How to tell the difference? Sorry, no one can help you there. You just have to know. Good luck, ladies.
And that’s why the Jill Abramson firing is having ripple effects outside of the immediate circles of media people talking about themselves and rich people gossiping about the lives of other rich people. This story, particularly in its current state of more- guessing-than-knowing, speaks to the deep, immoveable, and totally realistic fear many women have that there’s nothing they can do to overcome sexism in the workplace. … Women worry that the single word “pushy” can destroy everything they’ve worked for. Abramson’s story suggests that they may not be paranoid to think it.
Ann Friedman, at NYMag‘s ladyblog, The Cut:
… In real time, it’s hard to be sure what’s sexism and what’s you. Abramson exhibited this tension: She was unapologetic about her power and firm about her decisions, but she was also working with a coach to improve her management skills — presumably in response to complaints, such as those aired anonymously in Politico last year, that she was unpopular, unapproachable, condescending, brusque. Even though she and many outsiders recognized the double standards in the article, she later told Newsweek it made her cry.
I’m sure those quotes stung on a personal level, but they were also a grave professional threat… [F]or most women, and anyone else who faces scrutiny as the “only one” in the room, not caring is not an option. This is not because all women necessarily have a deep personal need to be liked by their colleagues; it’s because those colleagues’ gut-level opinions matter greatly when it comes to evaluating a woman’s job performance. Women are sometimes advised to keep a low profile and let their work “speak for itself.” But in Abramson’s case, eight Pulitzers did not speak loudly enough. Revenue growth did not speak loudly enough. Successful new digital products did not speak loudly enough….
Abramson’s experience suggests that, for many women, the confidence gap is not that they have less faith in their abilities than men. It’s that (unlike men) they’re expected to downplay their confidence in order to seem nonthreatening and likable — or face professional consequences. This emotional labor is the unwritten responsibility in every woman’s job description…