"Women don't write at Newsweek. If you want to be a writer, go someplace else," they were told in their job interviews.
Lynn Povich, the first female senior editor of Newsweek, wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times this week discussing her experiences as a young female employee at the publication. 40 years ago, 46 of the women of Newsweek filed a lawsuit against the magazine for workplace gender discrimination, protesting a system where the writers and editors were all men and the women were given lesser tasks such as clipping and fact-checking. The discrimination, she writes, was blatant, and the inappropriate behavior on the part of men toward the female employees was endemic. Povich alleges that sexism persists in the modern workplace, though it is more subtle than it once was.
Having gone through the discrimination suit process herself, Povich has some tips on how to combat this subtler sexism. Her biggest piece of advice is to document any of the instances of sexism you feel affected by. This is the way to prove it's more than just a 'feeling' of sexism, but rather that concrete events are occurring. "If you count it," she says, "you can change it."
Povich notes that two years ago she was approached by two young women working for Newsweek who had come across the lawsuit while researching for a piece on workplace issues women are facing today. The women who were willing to come forward then to combat workplace gender discrimination are still in the workforce today, and the young women entering the working world are better off for their efforts. However, these instances of gender discrimination still exist in the workplace.
Documenting instances of sexism, such as noting when promotions are given disproportionately, or major clients are only handled by employees of one gender, is the first step in reaching a resolution. Speaking with an attorney who specializes in workplace discrimination can present different options in how to handle the issue going forward. Courage, like Povich and her co-workers showed, pays off not only in the present, but for the future.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Women in the workplace: How 'good girls' fight back," Lynn Povich, Oct. 7, 2012