On June 2, 2003, I was named editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and became — as Jill Abramson did later at the New York Times — the first female editor in a storied institution’s hundred-year-plus history. In November 2006, I achieved another distinction that Abramson last week came to share. I was fired after a tenure of only about three years.
The difference in the public reaction to those events tells me something both wonderful and terrible about what has changed in the world that working women inhabit.
Terrible because, whatever the facts of Abramson’s departure, it exposed in a raw way the reservoirs of resentment, hurt and mistrust that women feel at work.
Wonderful, because it is clear that something fundamental has changed in just those seven short years. Women now feel not only resentful but also, finally, entitled: Entitled to lead. Entitled to be paid equally. Entitled to be flawed. Entitled to be fired, yes, but also entitled to point out the fact that to us seems so obvious: Men with even more spectacular and difficult flaws than ours get not only longer tenures but also much softer and more dignified landings.