On this episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Joanne Lipman talks about her new book, “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (And Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together.” Lipman, previously the editor in chief of USA Today and deputy managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, spent three years researching discrimination, sexism and the failures of HR-led “diversity training” in the workplace.
You can read a write-up of the interview here or listen to the whole thing in the audio player above. Below, we’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Kara Swisher: Recode Radio presents Recode Decode, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast network. Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode. You may know me as someone whose idea of a perfect workplace is the first 20 minutes of “Wonder Woman,” but in my spare time I talk tech, and you’re listening to Recode Decode, a podcast about tech and media’s key players, big ideas and how they’re changing the world we live in. Today in the red chair is an old friend of mine, Joanne Lipman, a journalist and author who was previously, just recently, editor in chief of USA Today and the chief content officer of Gannet, which is its owner.
She has a new book out called “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know and Women Need to Tell Them About Working Together.” What perfect timing you have, Joanne. Welcome to Recode Decode.
Joanne Lipman: Thank you, Kara. It’s great to be here.
I know. Let’s go back. I like to talk about people’s backgrounds before we get to the meat of what we’re going to talk about. I met you at the Wall Street Journal where you were a big wheel, and when I was a little, tiny, little wheel.
You were always a big wheel, Kara.
That is true.
Let’s face it.
Let’s face the facts.
Let’s be honest.
I was little, but you were big. Explain what you did at the Journal, and then you went on to Portfolio and then you got to USA. People like to know people’s backgrounds.
Sure. Actually I started at the Wall Street Journal as an intern, and then was hired right after college as a reporter, and then I spent 22 years there.
What did you cover, the different things?
The very first thing I covered was insurance, followed by real estate, then I started the advertising column, and then I went from there to become an editor. I was an editor on page one, and then I was asked by Paul Steiger — who ran the Wall Street Journal at the time — to create a new section, and I created Weekend Journal, and then Personal Journal, and then I was part of the team overseeing the creation of the Saturday paper. During that time I also became a deputy managing editor.
You know I objected to the Saturday paper.
A lot of people did, but at the end of the day ...
They threw me out of a focus group at the Journal. Not you, but someone did.
Is that right? I would never have done that to you.
I know. I said, “Don’t do it, invest in digital.” They didn’t like that message. You left the Journal, and then you went to run another big startup.
I did. I left the Journal. SI Newhouse, who unfortunately recently deceased, but SI Newhouse who owned Condé Nast asked me to come over to create a business magazine, and it was too good, it was too enticing to pass up, and I really did love the Wall Street Journal, but, boy. I had this amazing conversation with SI Newhouse where he said, “What’s your dream magazine?” I said, “I’d love a business magazine that speaks to me,” which I felt the other ones don’t, “and that combines the great photography and storytelling and reporting of all of your Condé Nast magazines like the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, but trains that lens on business.”
Which both had a lot of business coverage in them.
They did, but not solely. What I really wanted was something that connected the dots between ... because you would read in the — and particularly with the advent of the internet you had this 24/7 news cycle — and you would read on the one hand about the executive who’s overseeing the entire renovation of Lincoln Center in New York City, and then in the business section there would be a story about a hedge fund manager, but they’d be the same guy. I wanted to connect the dots and tell those holistic stories. We created Condé Nast Portfolio, which was great fun, had great journalists.
Yeah. We just had kickass coverage leading up to the financial crisis, but we also launched right before the financial crisis so that was unfortunate timing.
It reminded me of Manhattan Inc, another great magazine, another finance magazine on Manhattan, but it was also great.
It was sort of the Manhattan Inc of its era.
Exactly. What did you take away from that experience? You moved from a traditional — as you and I know, the Journal was pretty traditional, pretty slow moving in the digital area for sure. You did some of the most creative things there, but at the Journal ... no good deed goes unpunished at the Wall Street Journal. Then you moved on entrepreneurially to do this thing. How did you think of that transition? Then you went over to USA Today.
I think ever since I created the advertising column when I was 27 years old, I have that entrepreneurial itch. For many, many years, the Wall Street Journal let me scratch it. I basically oversaw anything that was new and creative, and I had wide license to really create new ways of engaging with readers and reaching new audiences, and it was fantastic, and it really allowed me to scratch that creative itch. It was very similar going to Condé Nast and creating something new.
I’ll tell you the big, big difference is, wow, a monthly magazine ... I oversaw a website as well as the monthly magazine. Digitally we could be as fast as we needed to be, which became faster and faster, as we all know. A monthly magazine and a bespoke magazine, which is what those Condé Nast magazines were, at that time you really were closing the magazine one month before it hit the newsstands, which meant you were assigning those stories months before.
How could you be on point?
Kara, you’ve actually always been really good at this, you have to be thinking ahead. You have to be looking ahead of the curve and literally seeing beyond the next story. Not everybody has that skill. You definitely have it, but not everybody has it, and so you really have to focus on it, and you have to focus on surrounding yourself with people who have that skill. For example, in 2008, the financial crisis, we had asked Michael Lewis — who was one of our writers way back in midyear of 2008, after Bear Stearn. It had to be maybe June, maybe even earlier. I don’t remember when it was. It was ...
... well before the September meltdown. We had asked Michael Lewis to do a piece on Wall Street’s annus horribilis, so that when things actually did crash, he’d been working on it for months. He’s a brilliant, brilliant writer and reporter, and he wrote a piece that we were able to push out right after the crash that turned into, that was the basis for his book, and then the film “The Big Short.” It’s really a matter of being able to rally editors as well as fantastic writers like Michael Lewis who are people who really can see around the bend.
How would you look at how — and we’re going to get to your book in one second — but how would you look, having been at so many different giant news organizations, at very high-ranking positions, how quickly they responded to digital? I want to focus on tech here, because we’ve a lot of tech listeners. Being in those jobs, how do you assess you all reacting to them?
Well, I think that all legacy media was very, very slow to adapt to digital. I don’t think anyone could argue with that. I think even now it’s difficult, but on the other hand it’s also difficult for digital-only publications. Nobody has figured out a business model, nobody in legacy and frankly nobody in these new organizations either has figured out the business model for going forward.
Not a great one that doesn’t get disturbed all the time, almost continually, or you’re always having to change, essentially.
You’re always having to change, and then you’re dealing with the frenemies of Facebook and Google and the other giants, and that becomes incredibly fraught, also.
You just left a massive organization, USA Today. How do you run an organization like that anymore?
Oh my gosh, it was so much fun. It was so much fun. I was brought in by the CEO of Gannet, Bob Dickey. He had just come in, and he had this idea of taking what had been a siloed news organization ... So Gannet was a holding company. It had USA Today, and ...
And then a zillion.
... 109 local newspapers, though we did not call them papers, because they were primarily digital. They had paper products, but we really wanted to focus on the digital audience. It owns the Detroit Free Press and the Des Moines Register and the Cincinnati Enquirer and on and on. Bob’s idea was they’d all been run as a holding company separately, so let’s create the USA Today Network.
So he brought me in as the company’s first chief content officer to say, “Let’s create a network of all these organizations.” USA Today is the flagship, but this way instead of having 110 individually constrained newsrooms, you have 110 newsrooms with well over 3,000 journalists who are able to work cooperatively together. It was ...
It was fantastic, because we could take great reporting, like the Indianapolis Star broke the story about Larry Nassar, the doctor who was abusing the gymnasts. We were able to take that story, work with the Indianapolis Star, run it wide nationally and in USA Today, but then also distribute it to all of the other local properties. We became essentially our own AP.
AP. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.
It was terrific, and then if there was a big story, a big local story, a hurricane of some sort, we had boots on the ground, and we were able to also send people. If you have a hurricane in Texas, well, we had the Arizona Republic, so you could get reinforcements from Arizona. Then we could do these very big, very ambitious investigative pieces. USA Today Network in its first year was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a piece about abusive teachers and how they could get fired in one state and move to the next state and be in front of a classroom a week later.
We were able to do that because we had this great data collection from across the country. We had a big national story, but every local market was given their local data so they could localize.
You’re talking about networks. You create a network out of everything newswise.
You just left them because of this new book. This is the first time you’re out of a big journalism job, essentially.
It is. It is. It’s fun.
What was the impetus for doing this then?
I started “That’s What She Said,” actually I started it three years ago.
We met and had lunch or something, and you were talking about this, which I remember. What did it grow out of, working with all these ...?
I will tell you.
I was never a wheel at these places.
Oh my gosh, so the genesis of it was this, was the fact that women talk amongst ourselves all the time about these issues that we face at work, which are common across no matter what industry you’re in. Being marginalized, being interrupted, being overlooked and not being paid as well as the guy sitting next to you, all of these issues.
Women talk amongst ourselves, but what we haven’t done is talk to men about it, and as somebody who grew up professionally surrounded by men — and by the way, all my mentors were men. I knew a lot of really good guys — I really felt like women talking to each other is half a conversation, and at best gets you to half a solution.
There really was an impetus, there really was the aha moment I had, and it was a little over three years ago. I was speaking at ...
You were at USA Today at this point.
It’s right before I joined, so I was speaking at a conference and I was on a plane to Des Moines, and I’m sitting next to this lovely businessman, and he’s talking about his new house and the kids and their sports teams, and it’s lovely. Then he says, “So why are you going to Des Moines?” I said, “Well, I’m going to speak at a women’s leadership conference.”
Suddenly this lovely man, he freezes up, he gets that deer-in-the-headlights look, and he goes, “Sorry I’m a man.” Then he goes into, he launches into this whole thing about how he had just gone through diversity training at his bank and how awful it was and they beat him up. It felt like you’re being sent to the principal’s office.
He said to me, he said he took one message away from diversity training, and that message was it’s all your fault. That really stuck with me, and the following day ...
What did you say to him when he said that?
I tried to ...
“Oh, suck it up, Susan.” That’s what I would say.
I tried to talk him off the ledge, but it really did stick with me. The following day I’m speaking to this hotel ballroom full of women about these issues we face and watching a sea of heads nodding in recognition. I literally stopped in the middle of a sentence, and I said, “You know what, we already know all of this. We need men in the room to hear this.” That prompted me to write an article that actually ran, it was in the Saturday paper of the Wall Street Journal, the weekend edition, that was called “Women at Work: A Guide for Men,” that went viral.
Then that led to “That’s What She Said.” It led to the book, and I spent three years, really. I crisscrossed the country, I talked to men in a variety of industries. I spent a long time talking to guys and coming out here to Silicon Valley, spent time with Google, with Facebook, with other tech firms in addition to a lot of other industries as well, to try and understand both what are the issues and what are solutions. I really wanted it to be solutions-based, and I wanted it to be for men, not just women. The book is for women and men. I say in the beginning, “No man-bashing.” I really want to ...
Not just a little bit, Joanne.
We need to understand ...
Just a little.
We’ll leave that to you, Kara.
Some of them need bashing, come on.
This is an all-of-us problem, and until we recognize it’s an all-of-us problem, not a girl problem, we’re never going to fix it.
We’re here with Joanne Lipman. She’s a journalist and author who previously was editor in chief of USA Today and the chief content officer of Gannet. She’s worked at lots of places like Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast. She has a new book out that she got from a man on a plane, a doofus on a plane. It’s called “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know and Women Need to Tell Them About Working Together.” When we get back we’re going to talk about some of the things that are in the book, and in our last section we’re going to talk about some of the solutions that she’s talked about.
We’re here with Joanne Lipman, an old friend of mine and journalist and author whose new book is called “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know and Women Need to Tell Them About Working Together.” Joanne, what do they need to know?
There’s so much.
So much. You went around for three years interviewing lots of different people from tech, everywhere. What were you looking to do? Your goal was to teach men the things they don’t know so they don’t feel like victims and they’re our allies?
Yeah. Partly. What I wanted to do is understand what are the primary issues both that women face, but also the things that perplex men about their female colleagues, and then I wanted to find solutions to fix these things.
This is scientific, all kinds of studies.
I have so much research. I both talked to lots of executives who are trying to get this right, and then I also delved into the research.
This is very Sandbergian. Sheryl Sandberg.
Yeah. I guess. In a way it’s also like a lot of books that are ...
Patty McCord has one out recently.
Yeah. I think of it more in the realm of “The Power of Habit,” that explains to you the underpinnings of what’s going on, and then tells you how do we fix this sort of thing.
Tell me some of the things you found on the way, and I do want to focus in the next section on tech, because I think tech has really accelerated a lot of the problems.
Well, tech is one of the biggest problem areas. Tech and finance are, definitely. I looked in a variety of industries, and without question tech is bottom of the barrel along with finance ...
Well, we knew that.
... in terms of ...
Let’s go into the overall things.
There are a variety of issues. A lot of it is unconscious bias. There’s a lot of unconscious bias going on in Silicon Valley right now that I have some concerns about, because I really don’t think a couple of hours in training will solve this issue. Nor do I think that offloading your unconscious bias training to the HR department is ... That doesn’t help.
We’ll get to tech in a second, but talk about the overall things that you found.
Some of the overall things are, I mean, the unconscious bias piece of it is huge. This is ...
What does that mean, because you know I disagree with you on unconscious bias. I think it’s conscious. I think they know just what they’re doing.
No. I think it starts, and we’ll talk about that, because unconscious bias is bias that we have buried deep inside of us, so deeply that we don’t even know it exists. It manifests itself in a variety of ways. What’s really important, what my research showed, is that it really doesn’t start in the workplace. A lot of what is in the workplace is conscious bias, but what we’re talking about starts way, way, way earlier. It starts in infancy, really. One of the pieces of research I cite is about mothers of infants, they routinely overestimate the crawling ability of their baby sons ...
Yeah. Sheryl talked about this ...
And underestimate the crawling ability of their baby daughters. Parents of 2-year-olds who type in to Google, “Is my child a genius?”, they’re more than twice as likely to type that in about a boy 2-year-old as a girl 2-year-old. Teachers, you get into school, there was a really interesting, I think it was an Israeli study of school children where they were given a math test, and then their names were taken off, and then they were graded. The girls outscored the boys. Then the names were put on the math tests, and this time the boys outscored the girls. It shows you that even teachers, even — and that’s truly ... These are not teachers who were saying, “I don’t like little girls.”
It just shows you there is this unconscious bias, and you would think, math, black and white, but it’s just not the case. By the time you get to college age, a female college student needs to have an A average to be seen as the equal of a male student with a B average. By the way, even though women get now something like 60 percent of all undergraduate degrees, professors still call on male students more than they call on female students.
They’re things we all ...
That then manifests itself as you get into the workplace. Then we’ve all heard, men for their first jobs are something like eight times more likely to negotiate for a starting salary than women.
Which sets in place the pay gap.
The pay gap from the start, but also women are told all the time we must demand to be paid what we’re worth. Frankly my research suggests that women don’t always know what we were worth. One of the most interesting studies that I came across that’s in the book that I found really gobsmacking, it was about 6-year-olds. They were asked to do a simple task and to set their own pay in Hershey Kisses. At 6 years old the boys pay themselves more Hershey Kisses than the girls. Then they repeat this experiment with cash in middle school and high school and at every age the boys pay themselves more by as much as 78 percent.
You end up way before we even enter the workforce, both women and men have internalized that women are worth less. That in turn affects not only pay but also the treatment of women. Women are worth less and their contributions are worth less. There’s a lot of things that women think just happens to them. By the way, every terrible thing that I talk about in this book has pretty much happened to me. Women are interrupted three times more frequently than men. Northwestern did a study of the Supreme Court of the United States and found that the female justices were interrupted three times more frequently than the male justices. It doesn’t matter how powerful you are.
Women all know, tell me if this has ever happened to you, that thing where you’re in a meeting and you say something and it’s crickets and it’s like nobody heard it, and then some guy repeats it two minutes later.
No. Many, many women. I have never been in that situation, because I am like, “You just said my idea.”
I was going to ask you.
Because I’m very aggressive.
You are like the one out of a million women. That’s why I asked you the question, because I think that you would speak up. This has happened to every woman, where I even was talking to somebody who’s a regular panelist on one of the cable shows, and she told me that it happens to her, where she’ll say something and then the host will go back to a man and attribute the thing she just said to him.
These are commonalities that women have talked about, so men do know that we think this. I think these are things men do know.
I think that men are not attuned to it. You have to be attuned to it to do something about it. Men and women have to be attuned to it.
When you think of attuned to it, because I was just talking, I was just having lunch with a VC who I like very much, who I think is trying very hard at least, and he said he was struck by how women don’t give feedback in meetings as much. What he tried to do was ask them questions, although there was a vigorous debate in the partnership that maybe that was insulting to have to ask them questions and maybe that’s not a good way to do it, but he ended up doing it anyway. He was surprised by how much feedback they had once they were asked for feedback, and that he forced them into feedback, essentially, called on them and things like that.
Then he said within three months the meetings were quantumly better because there wasn’t as much interruption, there wasn’t as much quietness, and he was pretty proud of himself, but I was like, “Okay.”
Yeah, but he’s right though. He’s right, that’s what happens is women don’t speak up. I think perhaps maybe a better way would have been to tell the women beforehand: “You don’t speak a lot in meetings. I know you have a lot of ideas. If I don’t hear you speaking up, I’m going to ask you. You ought to know that.” I tell that story about a very successful television producer named Glen Mazzara who in the writers’ room — he executive produced “The Shield” and then “The Walking Dead.”
Not bad, right?
He’s telling me that when he had “The Shield” it was when he first noticed, first of all he asked talent agencies to send him women for the writers’ room. He wanted a diverse group, and he said they kept sending him white guys, even when he asked for women. He said that the agencies kind of thought it was just a cover-your-ass move, like that he didn’t really want women, but he did. He finally gets a few and he realizes that they are failing. Now, here’s a guy who’s just invested in women. He wants women. He wants to make good on his investment, and he’s trying to figure out why are these women failing, why are they not contributing.
Finally, he says he finally realized it was because every time they pitched an idea the male writers in the room would interrupt them. He said it took him a while to figure it out, and to your point that men should know this. He said his ear was so attuned to the male voice and the male interrupting voice that he had to consciously say, “Oh, wait a second. This is what’s happening.” Once he realized it, he just created a new rule: No interruptions. Pretty simple. If you’re pitching, nobody interrupts you. As he says, when you’re done pitching, everybody can tear you apart. They can make you cry. I don’t care. The point is you have to get your ideas out, and it transformed the writers’ room, and he’s brought that rule with him everywhere he’s gone since.
It’s simple but it’s really effective, but you do have to be aware of it, and you have to make good on it. You also have to understand that it will make you more successful. I know we should all want women to succeed because it’s the right thing to do, but the fact is that it will actually ... This is why I say it’s not good enough to outsource it to HR. It’s got to ...
Talk about that, because that’s where people go. Your original guy, he was like, what did he say? “I know I’m the man,” or whatever.
“Sorry I’m a man.”
When he didn’t like his training, that’s where most people are aiming these things at these HR trainings and they think that fixes the problem.
No. Totally not. Wrong. First of all, standard diversity training, which was developed 30 years ago, I actually talked to a diversity trainer who said, “Look, when we developed it, it was in response to lawsuits. When we developed it, literally we were banging white guys over the head with a 2 by 4. If we made them cry, even better.” That’s what it was intended to do, and of course it had the opposite effect, because what you’re trying to do is bring the guys in, not alienate them further, but it just pissed them off, or they felt like they were checking a box, and so they were done.
There was a Harvard professor who actually looked at 30 years of diversity training in over 700 companies, and he found that for women as well as for African American men and women, for those two groups it made things worse. It would actually be better off if you never had training at all. This unconscious bias training is supposed to account, it’s supposed to be better. It’s supposed to be, well, it’s nobody’s fault, because it’s unconscious, so it’s okay. We all have it, etc.
The problem with the training isn’t the training per se, it’s the fact that it is outsourced to HR. The ownership of workplace equality has got to sit with the CEO and the CFO, the chief financial officer, because they need to see it as a business imperative. Every piece of research tells you, and we’ve all heard this, every piece of research tells you that when you have more diverse groups you are more successful. More female board members, you’re more financially successful. More women in leadership, you’re more financially successful. You add women to work groups and they’re more creative.
Or people of color, different people.
And different diverse people. Right. Better at problem solving. The CEO and the CFO have to own that, and if they don’t — and in many, many companies and probably most companies they do not. They see it as a box to be checked, and somebody else’s job, and that’s just never going to change the culture.
What is some of the things that’s what she said, what men need to know, so what are the things they need to know? You said everyone shakes their head in a meeting who’s a woman. What are the key things that they need to know?
Well, I think the key, the overall key is awareness of what the issues are, so that then they can take the steps to counteract it, so like what Glen Mazzara did with the interrupting, the no interruptions rule. That’s a basic. The unconscious bias that prevents women from getting promotions and raises along the way. At every level of a company, women are 15 percent less likely to get promoted than a man. There was a really, really interesting computer simulation that Rice University did of a company that’s 50-50 male female at the entry level. They program in a 1 percent bias against women, which is almost imperceptible. By the time you get to the top of that company, it’s 65 perent male. You really just have to be highly, highly conscious of it.
I actually want to add one thing. You referenced before diversity, not just women, and that’s incredibly important. This is so important, particularly as I’ve been out there talking about “That’s What She Said.” I’ve been doing live events pretty much every day for the last few weeks since the book came out, and there is a huge difference between middle-aged to older audiences, who are primarily the people in leadership, and younger audiences, like the 35 and under and certainly the millennial group. The younger audiences are very, very, very focused on intersectionality, which is this idea ...
Explain intersectionality, because they mentioned a lot in the Oscars last time.
Intersectionality is the idea that you’re a women, but you may belong to another underrepresented group. A woman who is also black, who is also gay, like belongs to multiple underrepresented groups, and the idea of intersectionality is it actually does compound the obstacles that you face. A Hispanic, gay woman is going to face more obstacles than a white woman.
It’s called the two-three rule or something. You can only have two, not three.
Well, I’ve heard double bind, triple bind, but same concept. It’s the same concept, and it is really true. We all hear that women only make 80 percent of what a man makes. Well, actually black women only make, I think, it’s 63 cents of what men make, and for Hispanics, for Latina women it’s 54 cents on the dollar. There really is an extreme difference, and the younger folks, the more entry level and younger people in the workplace are way, way, way more attuned to this than the older folks are.
I want to talk about tech in specific when we get back, and some of the solutions that you were talking about, but what do you think the biggest problem is? Right now the news, I mean everything is about men and women’s relation, the Oscars, I mean the winner, Frances McDormand talked about inclusion. I can’t believe she said the word inclusion rider, which is, if you want to explain that for people. What that is, is it’s a rider on your contract.
Right. That says you have to have inclusiveness in, and then I’m not sure exactly what she was referring to, if she meant the cast ...
I think that’s what she meant.
... or does she mean the writers?
Everybody. If you’re a power player you can ask for inclusion of everything.
Hollywood is the worst. I mean, a third of speaking parts are for ... Women get only one third of speaking parts. Men get the vast majority. In 2016, I think it was, only 7 percent of directors of the top 250 grossing films were female.
Yeah. They did a thing in the Times.
It’s insane, and then Hispanics only get 3 percent of speaking lines. The Hispanic population buys 20 percent of all film tickets. I mean, it’s insane just how skewed it is. You need that inclusion not just among your actors, but honestly if you’re an agent you ought to be looking at what’s an actor versus an actress being paid, what kind of lines are they getting, like who’s getting the bulk of them.
It was just shown in the ... with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams.
The difference in pay, which I think they tried to fix, but people are talking about it now, and it was wonderful when Emma Stone said four men and Greta Gerwig. It was so funny. It was perfect that she managed to do that. When you think about all these things, because this has been the topic of this time right now.
Right. Here’s the thing that I ...
It’s all based originally around sexual harassment, which is the ...
Right. This is the thing that people really, really need to understand is that the focus has been on sexual harassment, and there’s a lot of people who say, “Oh, you jumped on your book in October.” Those people are not journalists. This is like three years of research, folks. The focus on the worst of the sexual predators, if we only focus on the sexual predators and the sexual harassment, we are totally missing the point, and that could be we’ll waste this moment. Not every woman has been sexually assaulted at work, but every single woman knows what it feels like to be marginalized and underpaid and overlooked. That’s what this moment is about.
It’s interesting, because I think that’s what Sheryl Sandberg just said Friday onstage with me is that, “Great that you have to stop sexually harassing women. That’s not really the point, we have to have opportunities.”
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
We’ll talk about that and more when we get back with Joanne Lipman. She’s a journalist and author whose new book is called “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know and Women Need to Tell Them About Working Together.” When we get back, we’re going to talk about tech and some solutions.
We’re back with Joanne Lipman. She’s a journalist, an old friend of mine, and she has a new book out called “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know and Women Need to Tell Them About Working Together.”
Joanne, we’re just mentioning Sheryl Sandberg because at a thing she was saying exactly what you’re saying is if it focuses — not that sexual harassment isn’t important, and these have been gripping and horrible stories for people — but that it has to move. We all have to agree that people can’t be sexually harassed at work or anywhere else, but that the most important part is getting opportunity, not being marginalized.
Absolutely, because you can bet ... and that’s why I wrote “That’s What She Said.” It is all about solutions. Let’s look at all these other issues, because if you have any organization where they’re turning away or ignoring sexual harassment, etc., you can be sure that that is also an organization that doesn’t respect women in other ways. They’re not getting the opportunities, they’re not getting the promotions, they’re not getting the pay, they’re not getting the respect.
Let’s start first with sexual harassment. Now, where is this going to go now? Where do you imagine? There’s been story after story, so many men, so much bad behavior and price to pay. Many of them have been drummed out of the system, lost their jobs.
In my mind, there’s two ways the Me Too movement could go. There’s the bad situation, the way that we have to guard against is this idea that you hear more men saying, “I’m never going to talk to another woman again. I don’t want to hire a woman.”
Yeah, Mike Pencing it. Sheryl and I talked about that.
The whole Mike Pence thing. And that would be incredibly dangerous, because that would set us back by years if not decades. I also think it’s BS. I think any guy who’s saying that, I mean honestly, the vast majority of women are not looking at the guy who works next to them as a potential sexual predator. It’s simply not the case. We need to get past that and really, really fight against that.
There’s actually never been a better time to engage, for men and women to engage on this topic because it’s discussable. That goes to what the best case is, and that’s what I’m hoping. With “That’s What She Said,” the point is let’s put the issues on the table, let’s make them discussable in mixed company. One of the major reasons that men don’t engage is actually fear.
Fear. That’s what Sheryl was also saying, is that they don’t want to bring it up now.
They don’t. Catalyst actually did the survey about this, and they asked executive men what might prevent you from reaching out to women.
To a young, junior woman.
Well, actually not even that. It was just what would be a barrier for you to champion workplace equality, period. 51 percent of them said lack of awareness of what all the issues are, but 74 percent of them cited fear, and part of it was fear of loss of status among other men, but a huge part of it is fear of making a mistake. You’ve probably been there where in mixed company and the issue of workplace equality or something similar, gender, God forbid, comes up, and men just shut down. They look at their shoes and they wander off. They want another drink.
Or, “I didn’t know.” That’s their favorite.
Or just they don’t have anything to contribute, suddenly, to the conversation. They shut down. It’s this fear. They’re afraid that they’ll say the wrong thing and we will bite their heads off. The best possible outcome from the Me Too movement would be — and for my book, which is what I’m advocating for — is to ...
Well, first of all, getting rid of the predators, the actual ... Killing off all ...
Well, of course, but the predators are like the tip of the iceberg of it.
Yes. I agree.
We need systemic, societal change.
Many people have been sexually harassed, many more people have been marginalized, 100 percent, no question, or had minor aggressions that are harder to ...
There’s a systemic issue here, and frankly every woman has faced it. Every woman has faced being marginalized.
They have like 10 minor aggressions. One in a group, or two in a group have had, many in the group have had sexual remarks said at them that are just icky, and then one or two have had really serious encounters, I’ve noticed in groups of people.
Right. You’ve got the sexual predators at the extreme, and that’s a no-brainer, of course. They belong in prison. Putting them in prison and firing them does not solve the problem, because they are the tip of an iceberg, proverbial iceberg of systemic issues that are just marbled throughout society, and we just need to be aware so that we can then fight against them.
How do you get people from looking at their shoes, or not talking, or doing the Mike Pence thing? I think then women don’t get to go to lunches, they don’t get to go to social events where a lot of this is happening, where a lot of the power trading is happening.
First of all, for some of the guys I would say it’s just an excuse for guys who actually don’t want to engage. The best possible outcome would be that now it’s discussable, so we actually can have a conversation about this.
I’ll actually give you an example, this is one of my favorites, was that “That’s What She Said” came out of an article I wrote three years ago. When it came out, it got some attention and I went on a few TV shows and talked about it. One of the ones that I went on, on CNBC, it was two men and a woman on the anchors. The men were like, had that look in their eyes like, “Don’t call on me. Don’t call on me.” It was really me and the woman who were doing the speaking. Then you fast-forward three years, and I went back on the show to talk about it, and the men were super-engaged. There was no defensiveness. There was curiosity. There was lots of back-and-forth discussion. It was a great conversation, and that’s your best-case scenario.
That’s what we need, is when you put women in the room and they can talk about this freely, you need to be able to have men in the room and the women don’t shut down. Then you have a conversation and then, like the guys who I talked to for “That’s What She Said,” the guys who were really into this and trying to do something about it, they’re totally fine talking about it.
What about anger for women? Sometimes I just don’t want to hear it. I am angry, and I have endured it less than others. I get why people are angry, and I feel like they should be able to be angry at this point, because they’ve been tamped down in that rage. There’s something healthy and good about doing that.
Or not? Does it completely shut down the conversation?
No. I think it’s great to be able to express yourself, period, but I also think it’s important to be able to let men into our conversation. If we shut them out of the conversation, we’re not doing anybody any good. That doesn’t help. We’re not going to fix it ourselves.
Except there is an argument to be made, I mean as a gay person, also, is that there’s always like, “Oh, you should forgive us immediately for all this.” And maybe not today. You know what I mean? I think it’s always asked, people of color and women and being gay, “Well, you know what? We’re sorry now, let’s move on.” I’m like, “No, I think you’re going to be sorry just a tiny bit longer.” You know what I mean?
Yeah. I totally hear you, and I hear that a lot.
It’s sort of like you always have to forgive, and some days I just don’t feel like forgiving, or women don’t. I certainly hear a lot of women who are like, “You know what? I’m going to stay mad for a whole bunch of time until I’m ...”
I hear that. I hear that also. At the end of the day, though, it’s less about forgiving and more about doing something, getting off our butts and doing something about it. I don’t care if you’re angry or not, we’re not going to fix this unless we actually ...
You do instantly get the victimization attitude from men, like, “Now I can’t say. Now I can’t do this.” Even my son’s like, “Well, I should be able to say what I want.” I’m like, “You always get to be. Maybe today you sit down and shut up.” Like that kind of thing.
The people who’ve really been the most victimizers don’t like having to own up to that. They don’t. They don’t. Even if it was 10 bad men and 100 good men, the 100 good men have to take what the 10 bad men did. You know what I mean? They have to take responsibility for some of it. Maybe they don’t.
Well, actually, I think anybody who is ... I actually had this conversation recently with one of these activist men, who said, “All men need to take responsibility for it, because those of us who weren’t the perpetrators were the people who were ignoring the perpetrators, or who just weren’t taking it seriously.”
Right. “I’m a good guy.” I’m like ...
Right. “I’m a good guy, so I’m okay.”
“When someone said that in a room, did you do anything?” “No.” “Well, then you’re not a good guy.” You know what I mean?
If you didn’t do anything. Right.
I think we’ve all have that happen in our lives. Talk a little bit about tech itself. You were saying it’s one of the worst, I mean to be compared with finance. To be on the bottom from finance is pretty bad.
It’s pretty bad, but I think part of it was that tech started out with such a strong belief in it being a meritocracy, and ...
... all of the research tells you that the stronger you believe that you are a meritocracy, the more biased you are.
Because you feel like you don’t have to do anything about it, because you’re meritocratic. The other thing is code, that the ... “Well, it’s coding. It’s black and white.” Just like math, with those math tests we were talking about. There was a really interesting piece of research done.
Yes, with code review. GitHub. I don’t know if you know the GitHub research ...
Sure. Of course.
... where they took the names off of the code that was submitted to GitHub, and it’s open source, which means that the best code should win. With no names on it, women’s code was accepted more frequently than men, so your conclusion would be that women are actually better coders than men. They put the names back on it and the men’s code was accepted more than the women’s code.
Right now at Google there’s a lawsuit around that code review. Code review comes up all the time, is that if you can’t get your code reviewed right, you can’t excel, then you’re bad, then it’s a woman’s ... It goes on and on and on.
In Facebook there was also someone who cited, there was somebody who crunched the numbers and said men are like 35 percent more likely.
It was completely based on bias, those code reviews.
You have the code review issue, which is internal to tech, but then it affects every single one of us outside, in the outside world, because you’ve got algorithms that are built primarily by men, and then you have bias built into your algorithms.
Always say crap in, crap out.
Yeah. Exactly. It impacts everything that we do, and everything that we see. Then the other thing is the pipeline issue, which is also just a crock. The pipeline, I’m sorry ...
The pipeline issue is just ...
Thank you. Whenever a tech woman says that onstage to me, I’m like, “Crock! Crock.”
Absolutely. The pipeline one, it’s such ... I don’t know what I’m allowed to say here.
You can say bullshit.
It is bullshit. The pipeline issue, by the way, it’s not true in tech, and it doesn’t hold up anywhere, frankly. I mean, if the pipeline issue were true ... Think about this: The average CEO in the United States right now is 55 years old, which means he graduated from college like 30-something years ago, which is when women became 50 percent of all college grads. If the pipeline issue were true, 50 percent of all CEOs would be female right now instead of about 5.5 percent. It simply just doesn’t work.
Not only that, there’s all these excuses like, “Well, women want to have kids. They want to take off. They want to raise their children. They’re getting married. They care about the home. Blah blah blah blah.” That also is bullshit. Actually, Harvard I think it was that did the research on its own graduates, 30 years of its business school graduates, to see where they were, and there was a gap between the men and the women regardless of whether the women chose to get married or had children. Single women or women who can’t have kids, there’s still a gap.
Also, men are parents.
Men are parents. Very good point.
I remember once I was on a show, and I wasn’t a fan of Marissa Mayer. I don’t think she was a very good CEO regardless of gender, but at one point they’re like, “Well, how can she be CEO” — she was pregnant at the time — “and have this baby?” I said, “You know, there’s another parent who doesn’t work quite as much.” You know what I mean? I was like, “What are you talking about?” Why does she ...
There are men whose wives are pregnant, and they’re CEOs, and nobody complains about them.
That does go to the point, by the way, the Marissa Mayer point goes to the point of, first of all, female CEOs are much more likely to get the job when the company is imploding in the first place. Generally, the majority of women who are named CEO of a major company are named when it’s failing. That is not true for male CEOs.
And then there’s also, research shows that women’s mistakes are noticed more and remembered longer. By the way, our own industry, we contribute to this in the media. Rockefeller Foundation did a survey of news reports of companies that were in trouble. When they had a female CEO, 80 percent of news reports blamed the woman, think about Yahoo and Marissa Mayer.
I was meaner to Travis Kalanick. I’m equal opportunity mean to men and women.
Well, good for you, but you’re unusual in that case, because only a minority of news reports blame the CEO if the CEO is a man.
Interesting. When you think about in tech right now one of the biggest conversations, we got to wrap up soon, but I want you to come to solutions at the end, like six things or five things that people want to do. Silicon Valley has been roiling about the James Damore thing and what you can say at work and stuff like that. What do things like that do to a workplace, and what do you think of that decision by Google to fire him? Because it was against their values, essentially. They finally made a values choice. They’ve been hit by lawsuits. They just were hit by a woman who said she was sexually harassed, and then Asian and white guys who said they’re discriminated against because they’re Asian and white guys, which was interesting.
The Damore ... He was saying that he was being discriminated against for having different political views.
I think in that case what you were seeing there with his case was exactly what you were seeing with the diversity training that I was talking about earlier, is it’s white guys saying, “Well, you’re beating up on me.” I guess he was beaten up on, and he also made bone-headed comments about women. I don’t know. I think the answer to a lot of this stuff is you need, again, you need the culture change, and it’s not ...
Does it have to be a groupthink? Does he have a point? Let’s give James a moment.
I don’t think you need to have groupthink at all. I do think you need to be aware of what the biases are that are built into the system, but I don’t think that that means you have to have groupthink.
That people should be able to express themselves, and be able to say ...
Yeah. People should be able to vote however they want, etc., etc. I think the reason that they gave – and I do think that there should be no bullying. I think there should be zero tolerance for bullying. At the end of the day, my understanding is that’s why he was fired. For that, I would say, sure, I don’t think we should put up with bullying of any sort.
I think they felt that he couldn’t work with people, if they knew those were his attitudes towards women. I believe that’s what they said, which is hard.
Let’s finish up talking about solutions. What are some of the solutions you think are critical to companies, not just tech, but just in general figuring out how to breach these gaps?
There’s a lot of solutions, but one of them has to do with ... I think we all know at this point that if you have an opening, you should have a diverse slate of candidates. In my research, what I found is that that is simply not enough, that you actually need a diverse slate of interviewers. I think that’s been a big, big issue with the tech firms. You bring in a diverse slate of candidates, but you got a bunch of white guys who all went to Stanford who are doing the interviewing.
I think Stanford’s more of the problem, but go ahead.
Well, it could be.
I’m teasing you.
Whatever it is, it’s the homogeneity of the interviewers. People naturally gravitate toward people who remind them of themselves. What you need is a diverse slate of interviewers, and that actually changed the way I manage, myself, where I made sure that when we had openings ... For a long, long time I’d been aware like you’d better have a diverse slate of candidates, but it made me hyper-aware that if you just had the same people doing the interviewing, you really need difference in perspectives. I would mix it up in my organization to make sure of different range of ethnicities, gender, sexuality, just across the board, just get different perspectives.
The same is true when deciding bonuses, because otherwise you’re going to be really biased in the bonus piece of this. I think that that makes a major difference.
Taking your name off of everything seems to help.
Well, blind hiring. I have a chapter on blind hiring, and that does ...
I talked about symphony orchestras, which were the ones who pioneered this, and it actually worked. I talked about the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and I followed the course of a woman who went behind the screen and auditioned, etc., etc. Those symphonies went from almost 100 percent male to close to 50-50 male-female. The only one, the only symphony that didn’t follow that was the Vienna Philharmonic, and it’s still almost all male. They only just recently started those blind auditions. You can do that in tech. At some point you have to meet the humans who you’re going to work with, and at some point you do need to ...
Well, because I think it’s fit. They’re always like, “Oh, there’s fit.” Then who the hell knows what ...
These are code words. This is the other thing, the code words used against women, we know them all. Abrasive, aggressive, judgmental, you name it.
That was just me this morning, but go ahead.
You and me both. We’ve all been called that, it’s not just us. There was research that I cite in performance reviews where I think it was 100 percent of the women were called one of those words, with “abrasive” being the most common, and only two out of more than 100 men when they reviewed performance reviews.
Do you know, when I went back to the — I think I told this story to you — but I went back to the Journal after having a baby, and I’m not going to say ... You know the person who said it, but said to me, and I had broken all those internet stories, you remember, I was the leading scoop breaker on internet stuff, and he said, “I guess you’ll need more time now.” I’ll never forget it.
Oh my gosh. People said stuff like that to me.
“I guess you’ll need more time now.” I said, “For what? Why do I need more time? Why do I need more time now than before?” He was like, “Uh.” I go, “It’s not because I had a baby, because that would be wrong to say that.” They were like, “Oh, um, uh.” I go, “I think you’re talking about the baby, which I think is a problem that you have, and you’d better think hard.” It was a really interesting discussion.
That goes to another point that I made, in that I have a cheat sheet at the end of the book with a dozen things you can do right now. One of them is don’t decide for her, which is what you’re talking about, which I cannot even tell you the number of times I’ve been in a small group of leaders talking about an opening, and somebody’ll say, “Oh, Susan would be great for that.” Somebody else will say, “She just had a baby. Her husband has a big job, she’s not going to want to relocate.” There’s always some reason. I say, “Absolutely do not make a decision for her.”
One of the companies that I spoke to, they actually changed. They used to do that, and they made a conscious decision. They used to not offer things to new moms, or whatever. They made a conscious decision, “We’re going to give them the option and let them say no.” They said they were really surprised by how many women said yes.
What else were they going to do?
Don’t make decisions. Don’t be afraid of tears, which is another thing that I heard from a lot of guys. When women cry, turns out, so I had no idea, but men are terrified of women crying in the office, which leads them to not give honest feedback.
I have yet to see a woman cry in the office.
Me neither, but actually science says women do cry more than men.
Because they’re allowed to.
When they do cry in the office it’s because they’re angry or frustrated. Men don’t see it that way. They think their feelings have been hurt. The other thing is ...
They’re translating social stuff.
You’ll love this. You’ll love this, so it turns out, so not only do the men misinterpret it if a woman’s crying. A woman crying in the office is the same thing as a man screaming and yelling and getting angry. Men don’t know that, but the other thing is that when a woman cries, biologically, a man, when he smells a woman’s tears it lowers his testosterone and leads to feelings of failure.
Oh my God.
There you go.
Ay yi yi.
Some of the other things we talk about are just strategies that men or women can do. For example, what we were talking about earlier, it is literally true, the research shows us when women make up a third or less of a room, their voices are literally less likely to be heard, which is why they say something.
They need more than three.
Well, you need more than a third, and women don’t actually get to speak. They don’t even get equal time in a meeting, unless they make up the majority. They have to make up 60 percent to 80 percent of participants before they can speak equal time with men. There’s a couple of ways to go about that, amplification is one. This is what the Obama administration women did, which is, Kara, you say something and I immediately say, “Oh, Kara has a great point.” And I repeat her point, to make sure that your point doesn’t die on the vine or that Bob doesn’t take credit for your point. Brag buddies is another one that I heard from women at a consulting firm, where women are really good at advocating. Research tells us they are better than men at advocating on behalf of others.
Yeah. I bet.
But not effective in advocating for themselves, because when they do, they are seen as acting outside of their stereotype.
They’re too proud.
They’re seen as being brash and boastful and abrasive and all those words. Because they are effective at advocating for others, as these women in a consulting firm told me that they created a strategy where one woman tells the other her achievements, the other tells the other, they swap achievements, and then each goes to the bosses and brags about the other. Gets them noticed more. One of the things I talk about is — maybe this is less relevant in the young tech industry, though — is hire somebody your mom’s age.
Age discrimination is rampant, and particularly for women who have maybe taken off some time for their kids, or who have dialed back, they’re invisible, and they would add trillions of dollars to the economy. There’s a woman who I quote in “That’s What She Said” who talks about how she came out of technology. She did everything you’re supposed to do. She took refresher courses and she says, “I have more ambition, I’ve got the talent, I got the goods, I’m so much better than I was when I was 27 and nobody will even answer my phone calls.”
Unless it’s blind. I think blind is the way we go.
The blind stuff works.
It’s also understanding your worth. I know that’s an old canard right now, know your worth, that kind of thing, but it’s a really interesting thing of I don’t think all women do that.
Like I said with the Hershey Kisses, women don’t know their worth, so what you really need is to actually research your worth, because you don’t know what you’re worth.
At the same time they sometimes try to take your worth. I was in a conversation just recently where everyone was ... things that I had created and depend on me, were commenting on it, and I was like, “I’m sorry. I’m the only person that matters here.” You know what I mean? I said it out loud, and it was a really interesting discussion, because I was like, “None of this would be here without me.” It was an interesting moment where even someone who was at the center of it wasn’t the person who was making the ... It was an interesting attempt.
There’s a thing that sociologists call, that why women ... There are a certain type of men in particular who cannot deal with a woman boss, and women are seen as illegitimate authorities. That’s what the phrase is, illegitimate authorities, and so not given the respect. Literally if you put a woman and a man with the exact same title in the same job, the man gets more respect and has more influence than the woman does. You can see that it’s threaded throughout.
Look, I even did this — talk about unconscious bias — so one of the studies I cite in the book talks about how female physicians are more frequently introduced by their first names. Male physicians are more frequently introduced with the honorific Doctor so and so. Research shows this. I talk about it. In the very chapter where I’m talking about this, I’m proofreading my own manuscript and I see that I am referring to a female surgeon as Andrea and a male surgeon as Doctor White.
Oh my God. You did it yourself.
I did it myself.
Joanne, this is really riveting. Do you have a sequel going, what men should tell women? I don’t know if we want to hear from them anymore. Are you hopeful about this Me Too thing changing things for the better?
I am cautiously hopeful. We’ve got to keep it alive. My concern is ... I’m old enough to remember Anita Hill in 1991 where we thought sexual harassment was going to be done, because now we all know about it. It’s going to be over. I think it’s kind of frustrating that here we are more than 25 years later and we’re seeing that it’s as bad as ever, and in some cases even worse. We’ve got to stay vigilant. I’m hopeful, like this younger generation is much more equality-minded than ...
... any other previous generation, but the research tells us that as they get older men become more conservative, and that they become more fixed on having their career matter more, and their wives focus more on childcare. Hopefully they’ll hold on to those ideals.
I have two words for you: Inclusion rider. I’m going to get a t-shirt that says that. Inclusion rider, people. All right, Joanne.
Go for it. That’s what she said.
That’s what she said. Anyway, thank you, Joanne. Her new book is called “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know and Women Need to Tell Them About Working Together.” Joanne Lipman. Joanne, it was great talking to you.
It was great being here. Thanks, Kara.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.