Jill Abramson: 'I Don't See Gender' as Reason for NYT Firing

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 04:47 PM

By John Blosser

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In the flurry of feminist fury that followed the abrupt firing of Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times in May, one woman insists that workplace sex discrimination was not solely to blame for the axing — Jill Abramson.

Abramson, the first female executive editor in the 162-year history of the Times, told Katie Couric, "Management style was what was said" when she was axed by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.  

"I don't see gender as being the whole explanation by any means of what happened," Abramson, 60, told Couric.

Prior to Abramson's firing, Politico ran a piece critical of her management style, calling her brusque, likely to snap at employees, not charismatic or approachable, and quoting unnamed Times employees like the one who said, "The Times is leaderless right now. Jill is very, very unpopular."

When Couric asked her about the description, Abramson, who admitted to crying when she read the "hatchet job" quotes, said, "All those adjectives that you just read off, I can scarcely think of an executive editor of the Times that wasn't described in the same way. I think that women are scrutinized and criticized in a somewhat different way and that certain qualities that are seen in men as being the qualities of a leader or ambition is seen as a good thing are somehow not seen in as attractive a light when a woman is involved."

Abramson, after 10 years with The Wall Street Journal, moved to the Times as managing editor for eight years before being chosen as executive editor in September 2011. Less than three years later, she was gone.

The New Yorker compiled media reports that stated there were several turning points in the firing decision, such as when she decided to bring in a co-editor to work with Dean Baquet, now the first African American to hold the Times' top job since replacing Abramson, without consulting Baquet,  and her hiring of an attorney to represent her when she claimed she was not being paid as much as her predecessor Bill Keller. 

"In my experience, men more often than women brought up money and talked about it and pressed for what they wanted in terms of salary before they agreed to be promoted," she told Cosmopolitan. 

She ducked discussing the equal pay or Baquet issues with Couric, calling that, "another layer of autopsy."

However, Time reports she told Greta Van Susteren in a recent interview, "Plenty of guys get fired." 

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