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Katie Couric is the Lone Woman at the Table

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Katie Couric is a serious journalist now, or is she? I don't know that sitting at the anchors desk reporting news that other people researched and wrote for you really counts as journalism, nor do interviews, regardless of how high profile they may be. I suppose there is more to the job than you see on television though, like secret meetings with stealthy anonymous administration sources whose secret identity cannot be revealed, for their enemies will surely destroy all that is personal and dear to them.

Unless you're in a room full of other big shot newsmen, of course, and you're the only girl in the room.

And yet, the meeting was a little disconcerting as well. As I was looking at my colleagues around the room-Charlie Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Brian Williams, Tim Russert, Bob Schieffer, Wolf Blitzer, and Brit Hume-I couldn't help but notice, despite how far we've come, that I was still the only woman there. Well, there was some female support staff near the door. But of the people at the table, the "principals" in the meeting, I was the only one wearing a skirt. Everyone was gracious, though the jocular atmosphere was palpable.

I'd like to take a moment to commend Katie for wearing a skirt. Not enough women wear skirts these days, and Katie is an attractive woman, despite her advancing age. In certain situations, she can be down right hot. I'm sure there are a lot of women that feel wearing feminine clothing costs them power of equality and symbolizes the inherent differences of power in the workplace, and that may be true in certain situations, but I consider it a matter of taking advantage of what you've got to make yourself look better than you otherwise might. Katie in a black skirt doesn't make me respect her professionally any more or less than I would if she were wearing some sort of pantsuit, but it does make her more attractive in my opinion, and I like that.

Issues of appearance aside, I question whether Katie often finds herself alone in such situations because women are discriminated against in the workplace, or because women just don't want those kinds of jobs. A look at sports may provide some insight here, where many sports such as basketball and soccer have enough women playing that there are entire leagues based around them. You might think that women only play in sports where physical dominance isn't an issue, such as football, but I don't think that's the case when having women-only leagues takes away the male physical advantage. If women really wanted to play football, I think they would do so, just as they do soccer.

I bring that up because it highlights what I think to be the real reason for this -- men and women have many interests and not all of them are shared. I've seen women who are more than qualified to do what Katie does, but choose to do other things. I'm not sure I can think of any off the top of my head, and perhaps that's because I'm wrong. I don't think so, I think it's just because I haven't really thought about it very much. People come up through the ranks of local affiliate news achoring and reporting and there doesn't seem to be any shortfall in local newswomen. Maybe they just don't give a damn about that kind of career advancement, or maybe they are just getting shitcanned by male bosses intent on holding them down. I obviously don't support that.

Fifty-one percent of America is female, but women make up only about sixteen percent of Congress-which, as the Washington Monthly recently pointed out, is better than it's ever been...but still not as good as parliaments in Rwanda (forty-nine percent women) or Sweden (forty-seven percent women). Only nine Fortune 500 companies have women as CEO's.

I hardly think comparing the United States Congress to the legislative body of Rwanda is a fair comparison, nor is pointing out the nature of Fortune 500 CEO's, but for a different reason. There aren't very many young people in Congress either, or blacks, or Hispanics. Since all votes are counted equally, to say that there are fewer women in Congress because they are being held back by some artificial barrier is to accuse women themselves of holding back their own kind. If women vote in equal numbers as men -- and I have no idea if that is the case -- then women are responsible for voting more men into Congress as much as men are. Beyond that, it's ignoring a multitude of other variables that make such considerations far more complex than simple statistics.

That meeting was a reality check for me—and not just about Iraq. It was a reminder that all of us still have an obligation to ask: Don’t more women deserve a place at the table too?

The answer is resounding no. Nobody 'deserves' a place at the table unless they've earned their way there, unless they want to be there. Katie earned it, and she wanted it, just like all the other guys by her side did. If other women want it, then by all means they should reach for the sky and see if they can earn it. But to just give them a free ride like that devalues the entire deal, and it devalues them to say that they need special treatment to get it.

If there are artificial barriers to it, then they need to be knocked down and I will lead the charge against them. Otherwise, I suggest we let things fall where they may.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.