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Wall Street Journal editor combats sexism

By Breeda Bennett-Jones
News Assistant

Joann Lublin, management news editor for The Wall Street Journal, purchased a pin-up calendar of nude male models and hung it above her typewriter in defiance of her six male coworkers who all had pin-up calendars of women above their desks.

Lublin, an esteemed author and editor, was featured in the School of Business’ final installment of its Business Leaders Talk series on Thursday, Nov. 30.

The event, co-sponsored by Women in Business and The Bull, Bear & Lion, attracted students with a wide variety of majors, including business, English and journalism and professional writing.

Lublin took the podium in the Library Auditorium to describe her career at The Wall Street Journal, as well as her inspiration for her book, “Earning It.”

When she first started at The Wall Street Journal, Lublin had trouble being taken seriously. Lublin had male informants who would offer her information to help her with the stories that she was writing. She would often try to buy them lunch, and each time they expressed discomfort with having a woman pay for their meal.

Lublin speaks of her experience as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. (Miguel Gonzalez / Sports Editor)

When working on a story, Lublin would make phone calls to different people who might have information on her topic. Most of the time, if the person was male they would mistake her for a saleswoman because they didn’t expect a woman to be a reporter. Lublin was also assigned to cover various awards events that prohibited women, and she often found herself entering through the kitchen doors in the back in order to attend.

After sharing how she struggled with sexism, Lublin outlined three pillars of career advice for women, concerning pay, credibility and power. With each pillar, she shared a woman’s story of success and a lesson about leadership.

Lublin spoke about Cathie Black, former president of Hearst Magazines. When Black began her career, she wanted to get into the publishing business. Despite graduating with a degree in English literature from Trinity College, each employer she interviewed for wanted to hire her as a secretary.

After landing one of her first promotions as a replacement for her male former boss, Black received a $3,000 pay raise.

Despite the raise, Black knew that her previous boss was given a higher salary than she was told she would earn. Black walked into her new boss’s office, confronted him and received a raise.

“You have to bargain hard,” Lublin said. “Many women don’t think it’s the right thing to do. It all depends on how good you are.”

Lublin then detailed the story of Kathleen Ligocki, who held corporate leadership positions at General Motors and Ford. Ligocki graduated college in 1979 with degrees in Chinese history and renaissance art. However, she found herself working as the only female foreman in a General Motors plant in Indiana. After the nine other male foremen complained that Ligocki didn’t have to wear the mandatory uniform tie in 155 degree weather, she retaliated with humor.

“Okay, do I still have to wear a bra?” she asked her boss, who she said looked embarrassed and shocked.

Lublin emphasized the importance of earning credibility by establishing a rapport with coworkers.

“That’s how the guys do it,” Lublin said. “If you can figure out a way to use humor rather than anger, you’re going to earn the respect of your peers.”

Lublin taught the audience to take risks through the story of Gracia Martore, the chief executive of Tegna, a digital media firm. Martore was promoted to an investor relations position on a whim in 1995. Though her work week increased from 50 to 70 hours, Lublin said that Martore was successful and became the CEO of Gannett, Tegna’s parent company, in 2011.

“You’re gonna have to get out of your comfort zone,” Lublin said. “If you can do that and succeed, you can develop an image.”

When her daughter graduated college, Lublin wanted her to understand the struggles she and other women faced when entering the workforce.

In 2008, Lublin wrote a personal essay in which she reflected on her experience as the first female reporter at the San Francisco bureau of The Wall Street Journal.

When Lublin’s daughter read her article and found it interesting, Lublin decided to pursue the idea of compiling stories of successful women in business into a book.

Lublin made clear that there is no direct path to success. Success takes calculated risks, mentors, sponsors and good timing.

“I believe everyone in this room, women and men, can do it,” Lublin said. “The sky’s the limit!”


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