Having held the position of Executive Editor of The New York Time since 2011, Jill Abramson, the first woman to hold the esteemed position in the history of the newspaper, unceremoniously found herself suddenly and unexpectedly shown the door last Wednesday. In recent days much has been written and spoken about workplace decorum and the role gender equality plays in presumed leadership styles and compensation.
Following Abramson’s departure, media insiders had put together a number of theories behind the abrupt ousting of the 60-year-old newspaper professional. According to sources, it appeared that Jill Abramson, since assuming the role of executive editor had been on a mission to collect a salary comparable to her predecessor, Bill Keller. Management at The New York Times addressed the issue of Abramson’s pay claiming that during the course of her tenure, the first woman executive editor’s salary had actually surpassed Keller’s by as much as 10 percent.
With so much rumor and speculation into Abramson’s departure, New York Times publisher Arthur Shulzberger Jr addressed the issue head on stating there were a number of factors that lead to the removal of Jill Abramson from her post and her gender had nothing to do with it. According to Shulzberger, Abramson had established a workplace environment that clashed with the corporate culture of the Times. Sulzberger continued that Jill Abramson had a management style that went against the grain of the what he and others at the paper considered effective leadership. Shulzberger stated that those working under Abramson complained of her public mistreatment of colleagues, random and abrasive decision-making without consultation from others. According to Shulzberger, Abramson was given the opportunity to give her take on the apparent issues of her leadership. Sources say Jill Abramson did acknowledge there were issues in the workplace and was doing her best to work through them.
Many feminists have spoken out on the firing of Jill Abramson claiming this to be an example of sexism at its worse. A man with the same management style and temperament of Abramson would not be given the same scorn and scrutiny. As well, a woman of Abramson’s credentials coming into the position of executive editor and being paid below what her predecessor received is another example of gender inequality in the workplace.
Since her dismissal from the news publication, Jill Abramson had been very silent on the details of her departure. On Monday Abramson made a scheduled appearance at Wake Forest University’s graduation ceremonies where she delivered the commencement address. In her remarks, Abramson touched on the topic of resilience, handling setbacks, and pressing forward. More specific to her situation, Jill Abramson did say to the crowd that losing a job she loves does hurt.
On the heels of Jill Abramson’s departure, The New York Time made another historic workplace move in filling the seat of executive editor. In an industry where the rank and file does not necessarily reflect the gender and racial diversity of the real world, Abramson was succeeded by Dean Baquet, the first African-American to now hold the position.
By Hal Banfield