A highlight from Out of Your Head and Onto the Page: Author and NY Times Editor Jessica Bennett


Hey everyone. Welcome superwomen rebecca. Today's guest is jessica bennett. She is an award winning journalist and the first ever gender editor of the new york times and is the author of two books feminists nightclub and the teens and she has done some incredible work on social and cultural issues from the persistence of workplace inequality to the ripple effects of metoo jessica. I'm so excited to talk to you today. I am so happy to be here. Thank you so. I'd love to start a little bit with your back story where you always a lover of writing or was it something that came to you Later on iris. Kind of one of those weird people that knew from a very young age that i wanted to tell other people's stories i grew up in seattle and when i was in elementary school the editor of the local newspaper. The seattle times came and did workshops with my class and from that moment forward. I was basically like this is what i'm gonna do. Whatever it takes i will do it. So when you set out to start writing obviously becoming a new york times writer and author you have something called the overlooked franchise which is being adapted by netflix's. Did you ever imagine that your career would take all these beautiful sort of different offshoots of what traditional writing is sort of when you grow up what you think about definitely not i mean you know. I went to school. I went to college for journalism and at that time this was like early two thousands. They were still teaching students. That like if you wanted to be a journalist you needed to move to a small town and work for a local newspaper doing like newspaper articles. And i was basically like i can't do that. I'm not doing that. I'm moving to new york. And i'm going to take my chances on i'll however many waitressing jobs i need to support myself but i want to work in magazines and so it was through that i mean you know i was lucky in a lot of ways but i also earned it. It really opened up this whole world of like thinking about what storytelling is and different platforms for it and that it's not just the written word and so all of that has been really fun to learn about and to do so you've chosen a very specific path in terms of focusing on telling women's stories gender equality. You know making voices that have been silenced. Heard what inspired that. Yeah so it goes back to my first real job out of school at newsweek magazine. So i mentioned. I grew up in seattle very progressive city progressive home. I didn't really talk about feminism or women's issues with my parents or growing up almost because it was so implied in in the place that i grew up and it really wasn't until my first real job out of college where ultimately got a staff job at newsweek magazine. That suddenly i started to notice like I'm getting my ideas stolen hands. I'm not really being able to speak up in meetings and weird. I just found out that my male colleagues and friends who has the same title as me as making thousands and thousands of dollars more than me and it sort of took me a minute to be like Like this sexism. Is this thing that people talk about. Is this why people call themselves specimen exists. And so what happened. Was i started talking with other young women who were my colleagues and realizing that they shared a lot of the same concerns. And we then learned that at newsweek. The place where we were all working and it was most of our first real staff jobs there had been a lawsuit in the nineteen seventy s where the women of newsweek forty six of them had sued the company for gender discrimination in what was the first lawsuit of its kind and those women had essentially paved the way for us in a lot of ways to work in newsweek to be writers at newsweek. And inara day you were told well. Women can't be writers here. You can be a researcher you can go fetch the coffee but we will never put your name on a story. You're going to turn over all of your notes and probably that cup of coffee to a man for whom you work. Nineteen seventies nineteen fifty. Okay i mean you know not that far off but like a time when women were entering workforce but actually before it was even illegal to separate job listings by gender. So it'd be like woman wanted for secretary position man wanted for reporter job. And so you know like hr would say this to the women who are hired in. These jobs like your. You can't be a writer here. Women can't be writers here on they sued and so fast forward forty years later. Were like these entitled young people who have excelled in all aspects of our schooling and been led to believe we can do in accomplish everything and anything we set our minds to and we're butting up against some of these same issues albeit they are more subtle now. No one would say that we can't be writers they would just like you know steal our idea. I give it to someone else. And it would appear the pages of the news of the magazine and undermines i line so this group of young women started banding together at the company and we learned the story of these women who had come before us and we essentially decided. We needed to work together to advocate for ourselves and because we were journalists you know that was what we knew so we started reporting this story out. We went and found those women. We wanted to tell their stories and the anniversary of their lawsuit was coming up so we felt like we could actually publish a piece that that looked a what had happened. And how much or how. Little had changed and for me. That was really. You know what second wave feminists would call click moment. It was a moment where i was like. Oh wow okay. This all makes sense. This is what i meant to be doing. And from that point forward. I began bringing this kind of feminist lens to most of my work when i was born. They didn't know i was going to be a girl. I told her brothers and my mom her first thought was like oh. I got a Teacher to be a fighter and be tough and now That she raised me with. So i feel like you know i was equipped. I guess with that sort of upbringing. That the gender dynamics within my household never even occurred to me. Similar to like what you found until you went to work When i need a lot of these women who whether it is a disparity in pay or sexual harassment or being treated like again. Are you here to be the assistant. No i'm the one you're going to invest. In all these stories it takes women sticking their neck out and it's not comfortable when you're in those situations to say you're not going to treat me like this or riding in off at or whatever it is and sometimes i see these. Women's faces amazed. Sort of go like would never do that but i say listen. I know. this is an extreme example. But it wasn't comfortable for rosa parks to sit in the seat. Okay but she did it in a pave the way for equality for black people. So how do you with all of your you know learnings and speaking all over the world and all the incredible people you've met hadn't you find a way to get women to feel that power and feel that i'm gonna i'm gonna say no. This is not going to happen to me or you may change. I mean. I think that there's power in numbers and for me. That's been a real theme throughout the course of my life and on my career. I was feeling this way when i was young reporter at newsweek but also these other women were feeling this way and we started gathering and meeting. We would literally meet up in the ladies bathroom where all good revolutions begin and we would plot and we would talk about how we were going to confront this issue. I often like there is no thing more powerful than an army of strong women like a strong woman

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