There’s a little Jill Abramson in us all.
The first-ever female executive editor of the New York Times opened up to Cosmopolitan about getting fired from her position and the media brouhaha that followed. Spoiler: Abramson was careful to dance around the reason for her dismissal (though she acknowledged that the way women’s management styles are viewed “is an incredibly interesting subject”). Still, she made it clear that being fired is nothing to be ashamed of:
Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that. And I don’t think young women–it’s hard, I know–they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.
We’ve compiled the best snippets from the Cosmo piece for you, but definitely read the full interview here.
On sexism in the work force:
Of course I experienced sexism early on. I remember being in story sessions, and so many times, I would have an idea and I would talk about it. Then the convener of the meeting would say, “And as Jerry was just saying…” and they would remember the idea as coming from a male colleague. I didn’t pipe up in real time. I did grouse about it with other women in the office, which in some ways is safer and more cowardly but is very comforting and kind of gratifying.
It helps that my husband and I have been together since sophomore year at Harvard. Having him in my corner and my kids and my sister helps. My sister called me up after I got fired to say our father would be as proud of me that morning as when I got the job. That’s sort of how you dust yourself off.
On that now-iconic boxing photo.
I knew I was being fired beforehand, but it went public on a Wednesday. My kids were upset, and the loudness of the coverage was surprising. So I arrive at my trainer in Manhattan, where I always went early on Thursdays. He had these boxing gloves, and he said, “You need this.” I said, “Take a picture of me.” I wanted to send it to my kids to see I wasn’t at home crying and sitting in a corner. Within a nanosecond, my daughter, Cornelia, had put it on Instagram, and it went viral.
Hilary for President:
I met Hillary Clinton the first time in 1978. I was writing for a political consulting firm, and Bill was running for governor and was one of the firm’s clients. I went to Little Rock for two weeks to gather material. I was impressed that Bill Clinton had this very smart lawyer wife and this very brash woman as his top political lieutenant, Betsey Wright. Later, I went to work at American Lawyer, and I relied on Hillary as a source. Any time I was calling her for her own expertise, she was fantastic, friendly, and helpful. But as First Lady and as a candidate’s wife, she was sometimes angry at me and at some of the stories I wrote. Both [Bill and Hillary] have first-class minds, and that is a great building block for a successful presidency. I think he was a successful president, and I think she would be too.
She watches “Girls”(!):
I now have time literally to read the whole New York Times print paper every day. It’s great; I love it. I love the institution still. I love Girls although I didn’t love the last season. Marnie has completely fallen apart as a character, although Allison Williams is a good actress.
At the time, many criticized the “unceremonious” way she was fired, but since leaving her post at New York Times, Abramson has become an icon and inspiration for ambitious young women everywhere.