“In one meeting, Abramson was upset with a photograph that was on the homepage. Rather than asking for a change to be made after the meeting, she turned to the relevant editor and, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting, said bluntly, “I don’t know why you’re still here. If I were you, I would leave now and change the photo.””—
This seems like a pretty good and clear example of a double standard, putting aside any broader and more speculative commentary about the implications of Abramson’s termination. It is nearly identical to a story often repeated in praising tones about Apple’s Tim Cook:
Cook’s no-nonsense approach to management and solving problems was made immediately evident upon coming to Apple. When in a meeting discussing a problem in China, Tim Cook noted that the problem was “really bad” and that someone should be in China fixing it. Thirty minutes later, Cook then famously looked over at Apple’s operations manager, Sabih Khan, and asked “Why are you still here?” Khan was on the next flight to China.
This anecdote appears in every hagiography of Cook’s time at Apple, never with negative implications, always as evidence of decisiveness, attention to detail, high standards. People love it! Of course, a flight to China is a lot more onerous —did Khan have a family?— than a trip to a computer to change a photo. While I personally can make no real evidence-based argument that Abramson’s departure, pay, or treatment is the result of sexism in its entirety (I certainly have my suspicions, which only grow as more details leak), I can say this: much of the coverage of her time at the NYT reeks of it.
We were at our neighborhood park one Saturday afternoon and we had given up on getting Lincoln to like the swing (although to be fair, we are generally terrible at presenting him with developmentally appropriate activites — for example, I bought a shape sorter toy for him when he was six months old and was a bit disappointed that he only wanted to eat the shapes… and furthermore, he was probably still small enough to slip through the leg holes of the baby swing so was preoccupied with staying IN the swing, but I digress). Defeated, we were sitting on the side, eating oranges and watching other kids play on the playground.
There were several other parents sitting on the side as well but there was one mom, running around the playground with her kids, going down the slide, climbing the ladders, and talking through the telephone poles.
Now I’ve probably read far too many anti-helicopter parenting articles for my own good and I was busy trying to imagine how I would be when Lincoln’s old enough to run around on his own when the mom suddenly ran in front of us and turned to her girls to ask,
"Did you activate your lava boots?"
What an awesome mom. Period. End of story.
God, I hope I always have the energy and creativity to remind my kid to activate his lava boots.