Despite the rise of the #MeToo movement and gains by women in many aspects of society, women’s progress in many workplaces appears to have stalled.
Dozens of the most powerful and successful leaders across business, politics and culture are gathered at the New Rules Summit, an annual New York Times conference, which kicks off in full this morning in Brooklyn. They are exploring some of the challenges faced by women in the workplace and how to bring about change.
Anita Hill on the lessons of 1991.
Anita Hill spoke with Jessica Bennett, The Times’s gender editor, about her life and work — and the impact that her 1991 testimony against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee to the Supreme Court, had on both.
Ms. Hill called for a greater recognition of gender-based violence in the political sphere, and stronger leadership on the issue. New rules require leaders to put them in place, she said.
“Leadership at the top on any issue in any institution is what changes the game,” she said.
Before the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett M. Kavanaugh last year, Ms. Hill wrote in The Times that the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to right the wrongs of the 1991 proceedings. Ms. Bennett asked if she believed that the members of the committee had done so.
“What do you think?” Ms. Hill said, provoking laughter from the audience.
“What we want from our leaders is for someone — or someones — to step up and say what happened in 1991, what happened in 2018 will never happen again,” she said to loud applause. — Karen Zraick
Susan Zirinsky on her role at CBS News
When Susan Zirinsky was approached about taking over as president of the news division at CBS, she said, she had talked with a lot of colleagues over the previous month, and she realized that she had a unique place at CBS — she had virtually had every job, and people thought she had credibility, she told David Gelles of The Times.
“I’ve always had something in the back of my mind, that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” she said of the turmoil that the network had been going through.
She also said she took the job because she thought the company needed a major reset. She wanted to take the organization to a better place.
How to close the gender gap on Wall Street
To explain why women make 80 cents for every male dollar, why men are vastly overrepresented in executive positions and why female-led start-ups often struggle to secure funding, Sallie L. Krawcheck had one answer: society.
“We receive these messages that we’re flibbertigibbets when it comes to money,” said Ms. Krawcheck, the chief executive of Ellevest, a digital investment and planning platform for women.
The lessons take root at an early age, Ms. Krawcheck said in a conversation with the Times business reporter Sapna Maheshwari. Girls are usually taught to budget and to be careful with money. The lessons persist as women mature, enter the work force and earn.
The expectations are so different, Ms. Krawcheck said: “It’s like, ‘What financial type are you? Are you a Carrie or a Miranda?’”
Women needed to speak more openly about their financial goals and ambitions, said Stephanie Cohen, the chief strategy officer at Goldman Sachs. “When women pitch their business, they tend to talk about what they have achieved. And men tend to talk about the vision.” — Michael Gold
Here’s a rundown of some of the other speakers you can expect to hear from over the course of the day.
Valerie Jarrett and Sally Yates: Ms. Jarrett, who was a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, and Ms. Yates, a former United States deputy attorney general, will talk about the critical role of women in politics today.
Adam Grant: The organizational psychologist from the Wharton School will address the gender gap, with girls taught to be likable, perfect and pleasing while boys are encouraged to be strong, confident and brave. What psychological barriers does this messaging create, and how can women overcome them and realize their full potential?
An opening panel considers the world since #MeToo.
The conference kicked off on Wednesday night with a panel with Fatima Goss Graves and Mira Sorvino, who spoke about the world after #MeToo; a panel with Padma Lakshmi, best known as the author, host and executive producer of “Top Chef,” who is also a passionate voice for women and a women’s health advocate; and a conversation with Marin Alsop, the first woman to lead a major orchestra in the United States.
Wins after #MeToo have been ‘exciting.’
Since #MeToo went viral a year and a half ago, victories have spanned the cultural and the concrete, and “that’s exciting,” said Fatima Goss Graves, the president of the National Women’s Law Center and a founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.
“Over 10 states have passed new laws in different parts of the country,” since #MeToo, Ms. Gross Graves said, particularly laws that get at some of the longstanding practices that allow harassment and abuse to thrive, including how companies navigate nondisclosure agreements.
Further, she said, she has seen workers pull together to raise awareness of the harassment they have faced.
“McDonald’s workers went out with their charges of harassment across the country,” Ms. Gross Graves said of the protests that took place in September. “Women across the country in all these sectors aligned themselves with McDonald’s workers.”
The actress Mira Sorvino, who was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, was also on the panel. She spoke about the cultural and social significance of Mr. Weinstein’s coming trial, which is expected to take place this fall.
The worst-case scenario, Ms. Sorvino said, would be if “this trial fails to achieve justice to the victims.” That would be “a dark day for all of us who suffered at his hands,” she said, but would nonetheless “galvanize people further.” — Maya Salam
‘Top Chef’ head takes on McDonald’s over women’s complaints.
In late May, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union and the labor group Fight for $15 announced the filing of 23 new complaints against McDonald’s. They included accusations of gender-based discrimination, repeated sexual harassment and punishment for speaking out.
Padma Lakshmi had planned to go to Chicago to take part in a demonstration outside McDonald’s headquarters in response to those filings, she said on her panel. Before she departed, she received a letter from the McDonald’s chief executive, Steve Easterbrook.
Ms. Lakshmi, the “Top Chef” host and executive producer, said she was “slightly intimidated” by the letter. But she was also exasperated.
“I don’t know why a C.E.O. was writing to me,” she said. “He should be writing and speaking directly to these women and hearing their stories.”
She flew to Chicago, joining a crowd of McDonald’s employees and demonstrators outside the Hamburger University.
“If McDonald’s can dictate the specific type of pickle that can be used by their franchises in their burgers,” she said, “why can’t they dictate and enforce — with penalties — a comprehensive set of guidelines that ensures everyone behind their counters serving those very burgers has a safe and respectful environment?”
“He still has not met with these women,” Ms. Lakshmi said of Mr. Easterbrook, around three weeks after the demonstration in Chicago. — Talya Minsberg
First woman to lead a major U.S. orchestra feels empowered to speak out.
“I’m the first woman to do a lot of things, and I’m really proud, but I also think it’s pathetic,” said Marin Alsop, the first woman to lead a major American orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Her point: Such ground should have been broken long before.
“The thing about trying to work as a women 30 to 35 years ago is there were no opportunities,” said Ms. Alsop, who will soon take over the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
But she was not deterred in those early days, and instead got her friends together and created her own orchestra.
Ms. Alsop also said she had been emboldened by the recent conversation around gender equality to take on the misogyny in her industry.
“The great thing about the last two years is I feel empowered to speak out even further,” she said. “Now I feel like I have company, and that there’s a safety net.” — Maya Salam