220px-Jill_Abramson_2012Some observers immediately suspected that sexism might have had a part in the firing of Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times. Others believed, however, that a management style so abrasive that it disheartened the news staff  was reason enough for this executive’s ouster.

Now, in Women’s enews, Betsy Wade, the Times’s first female copyeditor and a Times staffer for 45 years, offers some historical background. Wade, who was a leader of the women who filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit against the Times in 1974, calmly calls attention to a tradition of sexism she maintains was established by Adolph Ochs, who bought the Times in 1896. (He barred his own daughter, Iphigene, from working at the paper, and hired only four women in his 38 years as publisher.)

Iphigene married Arthur Hays Sulzberger, who became publisher when Iphigene’s father died. Twenty years later, a stag party was held to celebrate Sulzberger’s years at the Times. Iphigene—barred from the party!—recorded this greeting: “Dear Arthur . . . Once more you must admit I am right. If this were not a man’s world, as I have always insisted it was, I would not be left out in the cold tonight. If I’d had been the boss’s son instead of his daughter, this party might have been for me and not for you.”

Historically, Wade writes, the Times was glacially slow in hiring women who could rise in its ranks, and still slower in hiring nonwhite employees for almost anything.

READ MORE http://womensenews.org/story/media-stories/140519/jill-abramson-was-haunted-nyts-family-ghosts#.U3zj9C-WThb

And see publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.’s response to the uproar over his firing of Abramson in another Today’s Talk Topic, “Point/Counterpoint.”

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  • Tobysgirl May 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Are we really supposed to have sympathy with Iphigene saying the stag party would have been for her if she had been the boss’s son? Yuk.