What NYT's Firing of Jill Abramson Tells Us About Sexism in America


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The New York Times' firing of its first female executive editor, Jill Abramson, who led her paper to eight Pulitzer victories in three short years, elicited howls of protests from her sister scribes. And with good reason. After changing his story several times, the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, finally explained that the real reason Abramson—who had the gothic "T" of the Times tattooed on her back—got the boot was her
"abrasive" and "high handed" management style which, as far as they are concerned, is sexism.

And they have a point. These same qualities, after all, would get men a big, fat raise.

I note in The Week:

[M]uch of the agenda of American feminists—wage gap, not enough female CEOs, tax payer-covered birth pills, and, the emerging cause celeb, the absence of paid menstrual leave—strikes me as special pleading masquerading as gender justice. (What's next? All expenses paid bikini waxes?) But sexism—holding women to different behavioral standards than men—is a genuine issue in America, especially in workplaces.

For weird and complicated reasons, it's an even worse problem here than it is in my native country, India, the land of sex-selective abortions, dowry deaths, and arranged marriages.

Go here to read the whole thing.

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  1. These same qualities, after all, would get men a big, fat raise.

    Really, Shikha, you’re not better than this pandering shit?

    1. I was going to go with [Citation Needed]

      1. I’m guessing sexism is why Reason is afraid to fire Ms. Dalmia?

    2. That’s utter bullshit. Male managers and executives get fired, or hit a ceiling, all the time, because their management style doesn’t work, which can include being “high-handed and abrasive.”

      In fact, I’m papering up the termination of department director right now on pretty much the basis that their lack of people skills (“high-handed and abrasive” actually fits pretty well) means they can’t do the job.

      1. Does he know that he is going to be canned?

        1. Yes and no. God knows we’ve warned him, trained him, counseled him, etc., but he seems to believe that there just won’t be any additional consequences.

          Since I have met with him, and he apparently disregarded what I told him, I have requested the honor of delivering the news personally.

          1. I once tried to counsel a coworker about the fact that he was too argumentative and it turned clients off.

            He then began arguing with me about the fact that he was not in fact argumentative.

            I should note that during one argument with him, I gave up (because I didn’t really care much one way or the other) and agreed with him. He immediately switched sides and took my old position to keep the argument alive. He then maxed out his score by denying that any such switch took place and began arguing about that.

            1. Most of us here, I would argue, are, to some extent, contentious.

              However, contentiousness should not be conflated with argumentativeness. There is a distinction.

              1. Most of us here, I would argue, are, to some extent, contentious.

                I vehemently disagree with you and would like to argue with you about this.

      2. Yep, happens all the time. Most companies are concerned about performance, after all, and managers can’t usually be effective if they’re totally incompetent as managers. Not that companies quickly realize that or take action every time, or, of course, that this applies to senior executives consistently, but it’s still true.

  2. Boy, this article is like a big, red steak being waved out there for those who do not like Ms. Dalmia.

    1. It’s filet mignon.

    2. I love Ms. Dalmia. She’s just wrong on this. Wrong wrong wrigetty wrong.

      1. It’s a pretty flimsy premise for such a big claim, and of course the entire article is not about some act of coercion or NAP violation, so it’s certainly not going to go over well here.

        1. How about the article being a big, red steak being out there for those who do not cotton to writers who rely upon false premises in spinning their yarns?

  3. Fail.

  4. Bitch, please!

  5. got the boot was her “abrasive” and “high handed” management style which, as far as they are concerned, is sexism.

    And they have a point. These same qualities, after all, would get men a big, fat raise.

    No, now it wouldn’t. That is begging the question.

    It might in some circles, it might get you fired so fast it’d make your eyes water. As I pointed out before, there are lots of cases where effective managers or leaders (male) are fired because of their ‘abrasive’ style- which yes, simply means they don’t get along with someone on the board.

    I personally know a guy who’s one of the (rare) more effective managers I’ve known. He’s been fired from the organization I work for… twice. Because apparently he’s “too negative”.

    What Jill Abramson’s firing tells us about has nothing to do with sexism, but everything about an organization’s right to hire and fire people that fit into the organization well.

    The New York Times is on the front lines of calling foul and “sexism” for everyone else, never interested in knowing the grittier details of what the circumstances were. Now they’re in the crosshairs, and suddenly it’s about details and circumstances.

    This is no different than Obama defending the pay disparity with women in the Administration.

    1. “no, no it wouldn’t”

  6. These same qualities, after all, would get men a big, fat raise.

    No it wouldn’t. Hemorrhaging money gets you fired, as do many other things. Being abrasive and high-handed is the excuse. If she were abrasive and high-handed and the Times was winning award after award, selling copy, and getting amazing scoops, she’d probably get a raise.

    Management style is secondary to achievement. Her area of The Times is in free fall, and she was in charge. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    1. Ms. Dalmia, what you’ve just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever seen. At no point in your rambling, incoherent article were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this site is now dumber for having read to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      1. Dude, that’s just a tiny bit harsh.

        A tiny bit…

        1. Someone hasn’t seen Billy Madison…

          1. Isn’t that Adam Sandler?

            The defense rests….

    2. It depends on a few things. The culture of the organization, for instance. But it’s the usual cost-benefit analysis–does the employee’s benefit to the company exceed her asshole quotient? If so, probably retain, unless the assholeness exposes the company to excessive liability.

  7. Wow that is a great big steaming pile of a bigots nonsense.

  8. Arthur Sulzberger, finally explained that the real reason Abramson ? who had the gothic “T” of the Times tattooed on her back ? got the boot was

    That’s reason enough right there.

    1. T for tramp stamp?

      1. Twat – the T is for twat.

        1. Now that’s sexy. I mean sexist. I mean…I’ll go now.

        2. *om

  9. And they have a point. These same qualities, after all, would get men a big, fat raise.

    Now I am no businessman, but would being a domineering, micromanaging asshole really get me far just because I have testicles?

    Fail indeed. The New York Times is the Titanic and Abrahamson was apparently bitching about her cabin not being the same size as her male predecessor.

    1. She herself listed her primary accomplishments as “hiring women into important positions”.

      If my business were hemorrhaging money, and the person I put in charge of it kept saying, “Yeah, but I hired womenz into key positions, what about that?” I couldn’t file the termination paperwork fast enough.

  10. What NYT’s Firing of Jill Abramson Tells Us About Sexism in America

    That it is a big phony issue invented by envious broads with no assets to flaunt.

    Next question?

    1. You know damn well that some beta males will stumble all over themselves in an effort to genuflect to the girls spewing such garbage.

  11. who had the gothic “T” of the Times tattooed on her back

    That’s really stupid.

    1. The things people do when they’re in love…

      Too bad she just got dumped. She might want to look into laser removal.

      1. She also has a Harvard “H” on her back. She an elitist jock sniffer.

        1. If only she went to Eton she would have a common article

    2. What’s WAY stupider is that she also has a crimson H.

    3. It screams “Professional!”

  12. That the New York Slimes won eight pukelitzers during Abramson’s tenure is hardly a basis upon which to argue that she should be shielded from termination. Put another way, winning a Pulitzer is not proof that Abramson was competent, much less that the communist rag, under her management, wass somehow the very embodiment of excellence.

    Shikha, please check your premises before you write.

  13. Dear Ms Dalmia, I understand that you are young and don’t know about the bad old days. But I can help to enlighten you. Getting fired for acting bitchy at work is not sexism. At least not in the same way as having your boss close the door of his office and suggest you take off your wedding band (as happened to my wife many years ago). Or having a guy come up behind you and put his hand on your breast (as happened to my wife many years ago). Things have changed enough over the years that doing these things in the work place today would result in an immediate dismissal for the guys involved (unlike many years ago).

    So while life is still not fair, I really don’t give a flying fuck about the first woman executive editor at NYT getting fired over what appears to be primarily personality conflicts with her boss.

  14. For weird and complicated reasons, it’s an even worse problem here than it is in my native country, India

    Right, and now I’m supposed to take you seriously?

    1. I seriously have to wonder if she has spent a single day in a real business in either country.

  15. “I’M A VICTIM!” – Women, blacks, Christians, Polacks and anyone else who feels the need to play identity politics over accepting individual blame.

    1. Look, we don’t know what the dynamics were in the firing. Do women sometimes get held to a different behavioral standard than men? Sure. Did it happen in this instance? We don’t know. Of course Abrahamson’s defender’s don’t know either, so probably everybody should reserve some judgment.

      1. In my experience women get held to far lower behavioral standards than men in the corporate world.

        1. Its part and parcel of being in a protected class. The olde “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

    2. That’s funny, because when I read the last part wondering about “how the management justifies booting out a woman during whose three-year tenure the paper won eight ? eight ? Pulitzers” the answer that sprung to mind was “so they can give her job to a black guy, obviously.”

  16. The NYT and America aren’t exactly synonymous.

    1. Yeah, they’re better than the rest of the country!

      So if even the NYT is sexist, the people in flyover country must be throwing acid in women’s faces.

      It’s an emergency!

  17. Crying sexism in this case is both bullshit and not bullshit.

    Bullshit because any employer should be able to fire an underperforming employee period.

    Not bullshit because Sulzberger is being hoisted in part upon his own petard. He’d be one of the first screaming if she were employed by The Wall Street Journal or like, but because he’s a member of the liberal-in-good-standing class, he expects he should be exempted from his own standards – like Bill Clinton.

    “I’m one of the good guys! It’s different because it’s ME!!”

    Live by the WAR ON WOMEN die by the WAR ON WOMEN, bitch.

    1. I think one problem with the ‘underperforming employee’ argument is that the NYT certainly also spiraled under Keller’s tenure, and it was much longer.

      1. The entire business model is spiraling. My guess is, if you’re taking the reigns of a spiraling business model, getting along with the management might help you hang on a little longer.

        Also, spiraling business models tend to leave corpses behind. Is there some rule that the corpses should only be males?

        1. taking the ‘reins’. Fuck, make me editor of the Times.

        2. I get you, I just mean to say that Keller rode that spiral for many years compared to Abrahamson. If it were just underperformance that seems odd.

          1. I fail to see why.

            In the initial part of the fall it is easy to lie to yourself and say it is temporary and things will turn around soon. Then when you can’t sustain the illusion anymore you replace the chief and hire someone specifically to turn things around. That turn around exec does not and should not get anywhere near the leeway that the initial exec had when things started failing.

            So no, her getting less rope does not seem wierd.

            1. This is how I see it. Now I admit I’m speaking without seeing the Times’ business model, revenue outlook, historical or current, but I do know that newspapers everywhere are in deep shit.

              In a failing business model, if it continues to fail, the bodies start piling up faster.

              First exec: 3 years
              Second exec: 2.5 years
              Third exec: 1.8 years
              Fourth exec: 9 months
              Fifth exec: 3 months
              Sixth Exec: six weeks.

              I’ve seen it first hand.

    2. And this case won’t be the occasion for reconsidering the War on Women narrative – it’s just a debate between those who think the NYT exposed itself as part of the sexist establishment, or whether they should be given a break because they’re on the right side.

    3. Is Sulzberger too PC to admit he wants the paper to actually make money? So he makes up bullshit about management style rather than financial failure?

  18. I don’t know who’s right, but I know who would be right if we applied NYT standards – that is, the standards they want to impose on others. Abramson would be automatically the heroine.

  19. That is not the case in India, where prudishness ironically expands the range of relationship options between the sexes. Women are not merely sexual objects; they have other uses as well! And in a nation built on thick extended families, it is not hard for Indian men to view their women bosses as extensions of their mothers, aunts, or sisters ? and therefore worthy of the same respect.

    But professional Indian women face less sexism not only because India is more prudish but also because it is more hierarchical: India is ruled by multiple, informal rankings of class, caste, status, office, age, seniority, and, of course, gender.

    I don’t get Dalmia. One moment she frets that the election of Modi will result in India loading up all of its Muslims into cattle cars to be thrown in volcanoes to appease Kali Maa, Goddess of the Thugee and in the next, she writes a paean to the Bollywood non-kiss. (You know, where the two leads face each other and lean in slowly, but just before their lips meet, the camera pans away.)

  20. 2 articles in a row without a good guy (or woman).

  21. I think it’s unarguably true that SOME men, SOME companies, don’t take well to women who exhibit the same executive behavior as their male counterparts. They expect women to by a certain “womanly” way, and hold them to a double standard.

    I’e also true that many more women are successful executives who don’t get fired due to a double standard. Women executives are no longer rare or even noteworthy these days – that alone speaks volumes.

    I don’t know anything about Abrahmson or care one bit about the NYT, but I think this is clearly an example of a company exercising it’s right to hire/fire who they need to, right or wrong, based on their own definition. Unless someone was directly involved with the NYT or Abrahmson over the parcticular instances involved/cited here, then they have no room to weigh in on whether this was sexism or not.

    1. anything “unarguable” is certainly arguable.

      This rhetorical clap-trap is how the left thrives. I for one do not assume SOME must be as postulated because of the stature of the postulator. They need to establish that ONE is in fact as they postulate before I even consider the SOME of it all.

      “accusing” and “establishing” remain two different things.

  22. Hoist on their own petard. I’m weeping for them.

  23. Blah blah fucking blah.

    Eventually, the wolf really did come, and he ate the little boy.

    And they all lived happily ever after.

    The End.

  24. But sexism ? holding women to different behavioral standards than men ? is a genuine issue in America, especially in workplaces.

    The reason is anti-discrimination laws.

    No, really, that is it. The fact that as an employer I can’t tell when a woman I just employed is going to blow her top and sue me makes me very wary of hiring any woman.

    Now, I don’t really know if Jill Abramson’s case was really about sexism and not about something else, but the fact that she was testy with her employer and was fired immediately after tells me that it is possible she was fired because she was testy with her employer and not because she’s a woman.

    1. Good point. And things like the proposed “equal pay” laws will make it way worse. Why would you hire a woman if there is a law basically encouraging her to sue if she thinks her pay isn’t what it should be?
      Hiring disabled people is even more of a minefield.

  25. I think she’s probably right that there are double standards expected for women/men in leadership roles.

    Leadership roles tend to fall into categories, and men tend to dominate some, and women others.

    Women are often hired to be ‘the boss’ because (usually) they are expected to be Diplomats, and help manage a bunch of Tier 1 douchebags who each treat their respective areas of business like feudal territories; they are ‘joiners’/mediators/advisors.

    If they don’t serve this role, they often are chosen to be the boss because they’re the best Salesperson. They are a great Cheerleader; motivator; deal-maker. People *like* them. They let the ‘smart people’ do their thing and don’t get in the way.

    Thee role that women tend to NOT be desired for is The Dictator/Field Marshal; a ‘bossy boss’ who is smarter than everyone else, who finds fault in subordinates, who is a prima donna, who needs to have their ‘personality adapted to’. A ‘we do things MY WAY’ person.

    There are certainly other roles (e.g. the “Quant”, the “Strategist”, etc) that are more gender neutral; of the above, men tend to be accepted as Take No Prisoners dictators, Women are not. Men can also be disfavored as ‘diplomats’- they are often considered ‘strategically neutral’ and unlikely to make ballsy decisions on their own.

    The above is a rough summary of the sorts of junk you get in business-school management seminars; or if you worked in consulting firms. (raise hand)

    1. By the way; all of the above could easily be translated to Dungeons and Dragons terminology and make just as much sense.

      Because most people think males or females both make perfectly acceptable Mages. Probably even Rogues.

      But your Beserker? probably not. Also, chicks make better Bards.

      See what I mean? Is it sexist? well, if you think any gender differences AT ALL are ‘sexist’ then sure. but they DO exist, and they tend to favor different roles in groups. not exactly the most revolutionary thought there.

      1. Awesome. I am currently studying educational “leadership” as I’m trying to move to either an administrative track or get into policy. I am going to now translate all this leadership-speak into D&D archetypes forever.

    2. GILMORE, you are speaking to me on a deep level.

  26. The opening paragraph is written in a very confusing manner, I had to reread it a few times to get who was saying what. As for the article’s argument, it’s possible sexism is to blame but without more information and/or access to people’s inner thoughts, I don’t think you can by any means decisively make that conclusion.

    1. She explicitly relies upon the fact that the communist rag won some Pulitzers for the proposition that Abramson was competent. That is weak. Very weak.

  27. that said =

    when it comes down to it, if people don’t LIKE you, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. People who matter to the business will quit, and that is a measure of failure. Sometimes the boss gets fired when too many subordinates hand in their pink slip.

  28. Dalmia doesn’t get out much and doesn’t generally know much. So I will forgive her for not knowing that the new buzz word in management and leadership thinking is “toxic leadership”. Those qualities that Dalmia thinks would have gotten Abrams a raise had she been a man, are exactly the kind of qualities companies are tying to eliminate in men and women leaders.

    Who hired Dalmia? Did they hire her to honor Dave Weigal with the memorial “sure they are an idiot but someone had to hire them” chair at Reason?

    1. I know I am beating this to death on this thread, but what about her lack of judgment in showcasing the Times having won Pulitzers as proof that Abramson was the very paragon of excellence and therefore immune from being fired?

      1. That too. And she also never mentions that maybe Abramson got less money because the Times had less money when they hired her and also the market for editors was softer then than when they hired her predecessor.

  29. My experience has been that women are more difficult to work with. They show up later and leave earlier. They put family before work. It’s very frustrating when you and your teammates are paid to be available and clients don’t care that your kid is sick. And women are mean to other women, so the men on the team have to be diplomats more often than they should.

    1. My experience is that women take conflicts much more personally and hold grudges much longer than men. And they also tend to be passive aggressive. A bad male boss can be dealt with by standing up to them often. Standing up to a bad female boss just makes it worse.

      1. women take conflicts much more personally and hold grudges much longer than men

        This is why I am glad I work mostly with men. we can be complete shits to each other and no one holds a grudge or takes stuff personally. And the few women I do work directly with are software engineers or sales people, so they can hold their own. Plus, there’s the older guy who follows them like a little puppy dog.

  30. She didn’t get fired because she was high-handed and abrasive, and women aren’t allowed to be those things.

    She got fired because she wasn’t the highest management tier and tried to be high-handed and abrasive. Want to be high-handed and abrasive? You can make that work, but you better have all the power or have a rock solid relationship with whoever does have all the power.

    High-handed and abrasive + no bullets and no gun = you dead.

    1. Or at least some profit to show for it.

    2. Yes. Successful assholes ten to be masters at kissing their superior’s asses while abusing and generally being assholes to those below them. Abramson apparently missed the first part of that memo.

      1. My ex-boss agrees.

      2. Crap flows downhill principle.

  31. The problem is, the business was losing money.

    All the sexism in the world is pretty well mooted by pointing that out. No, she was fired because she wasn’t doing good business.

    It’s fairly unassailable even from the weird mouthpieces of the left that normally make hay of these kinds of things.

  32. On the Pulitzer issue: Did Abramson increase the rate at which the NYT got Pulitzers? Because that’s the metric that matters.

    A quick glance at Wikipedia indicates they were hauling them in at a pretty good rate for the years before she took over, with 2010 (the year before she took over) a pretty good year. Also, there’s a question about whether she should get credit for Pulitzers awarded in 2011 for stories written before she took over.

    1. Are Pulitzers really the metric that newspapers go by? I seem to remember reading an article right here on reason (the insider-ey media articles that Welch and Cavanaugh used to write about– that I kind of miss) where the Newspaper model had become something like:

      Write six part series, submit for Pulitzer, rinse, repeat.

      When I go to a newspapers website to read stories, all of them have “Winner of eleventy thousand Pulitzers!” but it never makes me say to myself, “Well, ok then. I know I’m going to get hard-hitting coverage.”

      1. You are making my point – see above.

  33. But where does this leave sexually liberated American women who can’t count on traditional hierarchies to rescue them from endemic sexism?

    Maybe these sexually liberated American women shouldn’t have spent so much energy shitting on traditional hierarchies.

  34. “However, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that speaking out against sexism is not self indulgence ? it’s a civic duty.”

    OK. Go gurl I guess.

    “For weird and complicated reasons, it’s an even worse problem here than it is in my native country, India”

    Wait, I thought India was a rapey hell hole? YOU told me that!

    “No one [in India] really gives a fig if [women’s] leadership style is autonomous or consensual”

    Really? Not one male in 500M cares? Wow, what a country!

    “Women are not merely sexual objects [in India]; they have other uses as well!”

    Like sex-selective abortions, dowry deaths, and arranged marriages?

    “Indian women, despite living under far stricter patriarchal norms, tended to be more opinionated, assertive, and unafraid to stand up to men”

    Aha, finally a solution! We must strengthen the patriarchy to strengthen our women!

    This article was a steamer. Is it men’s fault for being sexist, as the title implies, or is it women’s fault for being so passive, as she claims? Are India’s rigid castes REALLY a good thing bc sometimes women benefit by being arbitrarily superior, as she implies? She cites ONE person’s opinion from some ad agency as all the proof one needs that American women are under the jackboot. Please clean up this turd.

    1. In India, the men tend to listen much better once the raping is done.

  35. And they have a point. These same qualities, after all, would get men a big, fat raise.

    No, not really. What Dalmia forgets to mention is that the person these qualities had created the most tension with was none other than Pinch Salzburger. If you have bad relations with what effectively amounts to the CEO of the company and the scion of the company’s controlling family, you should count yourself damned lucky to even get the top operating slot in the first place. And that applies whether you’re a man, a woman, a hermaphrodite, or any of the other 58 Facebook gender options.

  36. “And they have a point. These same qualities, after all, would get men a big, fat raise.”


    This is going to come as a big shock to some, but men and women aren’t the same creature, we have different chemicals running through our brains. Fact. So forget whether or not this is an example of gender inequality, gender equality is a stupid idea on a fundamental level. People don’t react to the genders the same way, nor should they. Maybe an aggressive management style is just less effective for women. Maybe a more passive style is less effective for men. Who knows, but assuming that each should be judged by the same criteria is wrongheaded from the get go. The relevant question should be “was she treated fairly?”, not “was she treated like a man would have been?”

    1. Have you missed the last 40 years?

      The whole concept of gender has been under attack…

  37. And they have a point.

    As per the usual Dalmia article, if she’s not writing about some obscure issue of Indian politics no one gives a fuck about, she telling us to accept the false premise of arguments that appeal to the lowest common denominator.

  38. This makes an excellent point about the dangers of immigration.

    Immigrants escape 3rd world hellhole, then insist that their new country is worse, that their old country was better and the new country should change to be like the 3rd world hellhole. Thus eventually ruining their new country.

    Even if this lady was fired from the NYT for that reason, even if every woman in America were actually subject to different rules in the workplace, I think it’s less of a problem than even one forced marriage or abortion.

    Just because Indian culture says being a sex slave being sold by a family is okay, doesn’t make it so.

  39. I so wish that Reason would get rid of the worthless Dipshit Dalmia, or encourage her to leave like Weigel.

    Then she could stick to writing full time for Time. Or maybe Slate or Salon.

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